Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The State of the Union

Well, I just finished watching the State of the Union address by the President. It was unlike the usual State of the Union laundry list of 1,000 little policies that need enacting (recall Clinton's incredibly long addresses). Instead, Bush's fifth State of the Union offered us a more philosophical look at the pressing items on the agenda than his prior addresses.

Given that the President's approval rating is still in the 40th percentile, he does not have the political capital to spend on a large agenda (apparently he spent it all, like he promised he would when he won re-election in 2004). Instead, he needed to appeal to common ground, and to make efforts to appear concilatory--to reach across to Democrats as well as his usual conservative base. He exprssed such sentiments in this speech. It was a well crafted public address, appealing to the shared values of freedom and liberty, and reminded us that no one wants to see another terrorist attack in our country.

The speech cleverly reframed the domestic surveillance program by the NSA as the "terrorist surveillance act," prefacing his discussion of it by saying that the Constitution and statute gives him the authority to engage in such surveillance in times of war.

The hearings on whether President Bush is correct in his interpretation begin February 6. I look forward to having that public discussion.

1 comment:

TRH said...

In reading the press accounts and text of his talk, I confess I saw nothing new, aside from the precursor to their '06 election meme - 'if you criticise us, that's just 20/20 hindsight.' Clever rhetorical move, in that few will recall the folks who warned of the dangers of this war, the need to shore up the levees, the dangers of the changes to medicare/medicaid, etc.

Meanwhile, an effort to speak truth to power is treated as if it were a spilled drink at a party - quick, let's dab that up, wipe it away, no muss, no fuss. Interesting, the industrious efforts to hide the consequences of his decisions.

From the AP --

"Capitol Police took Sheehan, invited as a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., away in handcuffs and charged her with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor. She later was released on her own recognizance.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said police warned her that such displays were not allowed in the House chamber, but Sheehan did not respond.

Woolsey gave Sheehan her only ticket earlier in the day — Gallery 5, seat 7, row A — while Sheehan was attending an "alternative state of the union" news conference by CODEPINK, a group pushing for an end to the Iraq war.

In her blog, Sheehan wrote that her T-shirt said, "2245 Dead. How many more?" — a reference to the number of soldiers killed in Iraq."