The State of the Union
Since the president's final State of the Union Address will already be over-analyzed by every form of media, I'll keep my comments about it short.
I was very pleased to hear him say he'll veto any bill that includes a tax increase. However, that also serves to highlight Bush's failure for nearly 7 years to veto anything important or to do his part to keep the cost and size of government under control.
It was stunning to see how frequently the GOP side of the room stood and applauded while the Democrats sat there. On issues from school choice to health care to national security, they could easily have been a bunch of Soviet commissars from the 1970s watching bitterly as ideas of liberty and free markets oppose their Marxist plans to control everything people do.
It was gratifying to hear the president announce the return home of about 20,000 American troops who will not be replaced in Iraq. It is primarily good news because it is that many fewer young Americans who will not be risking life or limb in a far away desert. But it is also an interesting political issue as it substantially weakens the raison d'être for the Democratic party unless you are a socialist or a union member (or is that redundant?).
I think the president has gone way too far in supporting "alternative energy" such as ethanol and in particular with his support of subsidies for industries which are more than economically viable without gifts of taxpayers' hard-earned money. I also oppose No Child Left Behind, regardless of whether the president is right that test scores went up last year. I wonder how the president can reconcile his correct support of vouchers, school choice, and increasing parental involvement with his unconstitutional federalization of education. Maybe it's the same way he could sign the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act while saying that he believed it to be unconstitutional. President Bush started his speech with a reference to the oath that our elected federal officials and judges take to protect and defend the constitution. He's done a poor job of honoring that oath himself, but I hope that his last year in office will be one that lets me raise my very low view of his presidency in that regard.
All in all, the speech was good enough, not over-reaching for a president with low popularity and whose party is in the minority in both houses of Congress. He made some important points on major issues. It remains to be seen whether his success will come anywhere close to his rhetoric. If history and the current state of DC politics are any guide, it's hard to be too optimistic.
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