Shut up! Just shut the hell up and sit down. President Bush has done nothing to earn such applause, or a standing ovation!
The traditions of the annual State of the Union address make me impatient.
One news report mentioned 58 interruptions for applause. I think the SOTU should be like a symphony performance; you hold your applause until the end. The audience stood up and sat down again more times than a devout Catholic at an ADHD convention.
I want to get right to the lies!
I say that not just because Bush is our president, but because if you take these speeches at face value, the state of our union is always “strong.” And that’s bullshit.
Especially right now.
We’re in a devastating war with no clear exit. We’ve got one of the most corrupt Congresses in history. We’re reviled worldwide. And we’re fast on our way from a democracy to a dictatorship.
It’s no surprise that none of these were the focus of this year’s speech. Because, clearly, we do suck right now.
Framed by VP Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who give the term “fat cats” a literal dimension, Bush admirably began by honoring the late Coretta Scott King.
Much like the obligatory “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” introduction, the president eventually worked his way around to, “Tonight the state of our union is strong, and together we will make it stronger,” before launching into national security.
Bush said terrorists want to “use (Iraq) as a safe haven” and are using the “weapon of fear” to accomplish their aims, without noting that he’s the one who made Iraq their safe haven, and that he too uses fear to his own benefit – in last year’s election, for example.
He accused Democrats of being defeatist on Iraq, even as he said “responsible criticism” of the war is valuable. A man shielded from criticism, he cited no examples of this.
During this portion of the speech, the camera showed a close-up of a young female serviceperson, whose disfigured face and quivering lips indicated an unfortunate sacrifice in Iraq.
The president spoke without irony about Iraq needing “accountable institutions” of government, and touched on the nuke-u-ler threat from Iraq.
He said we “remain on the offensive against terrorism” at home, omitting the fact that while airline security has been beefed up, seaports are still widely unsecured.
He touched briefly on his illegal NSA wiretaps, stating again that if someone in the US is talking to Al Qaeda, we want to know about it. No shit, Sherlock. We all agree on that. The issue is using illegal wiretaps when legal ones are fast and easy. He still hasn’t made the distinction.
Finally, he ominously admitted that we are in a “long war” with a determined enemy, terrorists.
On the domestic front, Bush stated unequivocally that the “economy is healthy and vigorous.” He spoke of wanting to raise the standard of living for Americans, even as his own party refuses to raise the minimum wage above its 1997, pre-oil crisis rate. And he mentioned $880 billion that his tax cuts put back in Americans’ hands. I looked at my hands – none of it was there.
He again urged Congress to make his tax cuts permanent. This comment drew the loudest, most enthusiastic applause from Republicants. They really get excited when you talk about putting more money in their pockets! Helping the rich get richer is going to benefit only the rich.
That was followed by rousing applause from Democrats when Bush mentioned his failed Social Security reform initiative. Looking out for their man, Republicants countered with loud booing.
Both sides were united in their enthusiasm after Bush’s call for “affordable healthcare.”
In the evening’s biggest shocker, Bush said, “America is addicted to oil.” His proposed “Advanced Energy Initiative” would involve the development of alternative fuel sources such as corn (a moonshine-based economy?), and the return of old favorites like nuke-u-ler energy.
His talk of “opportunity and innovation” was straight out of EPCOT, without the ticket prices and long lines.
Bush also wants to change “how we power our automobiles” within six years, his ultimate goal being to “move beyond a petroleum-based economy.” It’s a great idea that’s overdue, but do we believe for a minute that his record profit-making pals in the American oil industry will ever allow that to happen? And why are we still trying to drill in Alaska?
The president made a fleeting, oblique reference to the Abramoff corruption scandals, acknowledging that some Americans are concerned with “unethical conduct by public officials.” He went no further.
In introducing his two new Supreme Court Justices, Bush said judges “must be servants of the law.” Meaning himself, presumably.
Speaking on cloning and other controversial procedures, he stated, “Human life is a gift from our Creator.” It’s notable how far this point was separated from any mention of the war in his speech. Putting them close together would quickly reveal Bush’s inherently contradictory policies.
Finally, Bush tacked on a mention of the $85 billion in federal funds pledged to Gulf Coast residents since hurricanes ravaged them last year. With so many people still homeless, and no plan agreed upon for their permanent housing, the money’s not yet doing its job.
On his way out of the chambers, Bush shook hands, signed autographs and posed for pictures with his groupies. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist shadowed him, seemingly attached to him by anal plug. The president feels no need to distance himself from officials under investigation for criminal and/or ethical offenses.
Bush has SOTU follow-up speeches already planned for several states. If they’re anything like last year’s Social Security speeches, the audiences will once again be comprised of people who don’t need convincing. No criticism allowed, “responsible” or otherwise.