Notes from Dubya’s Final State of the Union Address

I felt obligated to take a few notes during tonight’s State of the Union Address, the last such speech of George W. Bush’s presidency, and cause for patcholi-smelling hippies everywhere to cheer, smile, smoke up, and update their counters — you know, the ones that reach zero on January 20, 2009.

Nancy Pelosi was sitting behind the president for the second time, and two things seemed to stick out. First, lavender does not obscure evil. Second, as opposed to last year, when she constantly moved her mouth and looked for something stuck in her teeth, she seemed to find what she was looking for after the first fifteen minutes or so. Maybe that has something to do with the new, gourmet congressional cafeteria she established at taxpayers’ expense.

Sen. Hillary Clinton gives her best “#@%& You, Buddy” smile
and handshake to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who just today
endorsed Sen. Barack Hussein Obama for president.

Barack Hussein Obama was sitting next to Ted Kennedy. I wonder if the Secret Service would let Kennedy give Obama a ride home.

Taxes. Bush rightfully said that the federal government needs to “trust people with their own money,” and trust the people to empower our economy. He acknowledged that we are headed toward a slowdown. On the expiration of his tax cuts, Bush explained that some in Congress have said that letting the tax cuts sunset is somehow not equal to a tax increase. I don’t buy it. Because of a weekend sale at the Home Depot, a screw gun might cost only $50; when the sale ends on Monday and that particular power tool is once again available for $99 — that’s an increase.

After Bush asked that the tax cuts be made permanent, nobody on the left stood up to applaud. For a moment, before remembering that he was not in attendance (he has also missed 249 out of 444 total votes in this 110th Congress), I wondered if Sen. John McCain would be standing with the right, or sitting with the left.

On responsible spending and control of earmarks, Bush told Congress that, “if these items are truly worth funding, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote.” He then mentioned that the number and cost of earmarks needs to be cut in half. Half is not good enough. A line-item veto would allow a president to use his–or her–discretion to take care of them all.

Education. Bush brought up No Child Left Behind, touting higher math scores and rising reading scores. Even assuming those facts are correct, we need less–not more–federal involvement in education. Bush may have called for “added flexibility for states and districts,” but what we truly need is the complete and total abolishment of the Department of Education. Nothing else would allow for a true federalist approach to this, one of the most perennially vital issues in this country. What works for schools and schoolchildren in Idaho might not work for schools, teachers and kids in Florida. Having a state-centered approach to education would allow states which are lagging behind to look to their neighbors and adopt effective programs while passing on those that don’t work.

On trade, Bush mentioned that our relationship with Peru is golden. That makes me feel better. All kidding aside, we do need a level playing field. Free but fair.

With regard to energy, Bush was absolutely right in saying that we need to trust American engineering to pioneer new forms of clean energy and foster energy independence. He’s right, but he already hasn’t backed up his words. We need to encourage American enterprise, not place mandates on fuel efficiency and find other ways to crush our own economy to appease Al Gore and his global warming crowd.

Good on the president for mentioning the most recent development in the stem cell debate. For those that don’t remember — back in November, scientists found a way to make adult stem cells behave like embryonic stem cells, thus scoring a big victory for life. Bush did well by expressing his hope that Congress will pass a ban on the purchase, sale or cloning of human life.

On Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast, I must say that the kind folks down there are extremely lucky that, in the two-and-a-half years that passed, global warming has not caused another hurricane to hit Florida, the Carolinas, the northeast or elsewhere. Even considering the collective ADD seen in the American public, the focus can still be on the kind–and not so kind–people in Louisiana and Mississippi who were adversely affected by that storm and Hurricane Rita.

He mentioned the judiciary briefly, saying that we need to appoint judges that “view the Constitution to mean what it says.” Of course, I agree. Again, however, I wonder truly how much Bush believes or how high he prioritizes this need; after all, as I’ve said before, we’re darn lucky that Harriet Myers and Alberto Gonzales were not sitting in robes in the front row for tonight’s speech.

(As an aside, what are the criteria by which the Supreme Court Justices decide whether or not to sit, stand or applaud? I’ve never seen them do anything before, yet tonight I caught them clapping a few times.)

Maybe I zoned out for a moment, but in touching on immigration, President Bush said NOTHING of the giant uprising which, back in the spring and early summer of 2007, derailed that giant mess of a bill that Bush–along with McCain, Kennedy, Lindsey Graham and others–were trying desperately to push through Congress. Sure, Bush mentioned that we need a secure border fence and fence-ish technology; sure, he said that we need to beef up worksite enforcement while touching on the merits of a guest worker program; sure, he touted the phasing out of the catch-and-release program — but he offered no sort of solution, explanation or apology as to why the fence passed into law back in 2006 has not been built, and why the laws we have in place have not been enforced.

He pleaded with Congress and the country to find a sensible and compassionate way to deal with the illegal immigrants already here. The solution, my friends, is equal parts ATTRITION (You do something wrong … you get caught … you’re not here legally … you go home) and ENFORCEMENT (somebody hires illegal employees, the employer gets fined, the employee gets sent home). I’m sick and tired of hearing excuse after excuse from our leaders while, every day, it seems that more Americans are killed by drunk drivers and murdered by gang members that started their criminal behavior the second they set foot on American soil.

Bush also said nothing about Laredo’s missing. Then again, that didn’t surprise me.

He did spend a good deal talking about foreign policy, about ink-stained Iraqi fingers and other “images of liberty which have inspired us,” about other images, like those of Bhutto, of bombings, of September 11th, which have “sobered us.”

“The advance of liberty,” President Bush said, “is opposed by terrorists and extremists — evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule.”

This portion of the speech was the most fun–and most frustrating–part of it all, in that I could watch Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats squirm. Many of these short-sighted, selectively ignorant people on the left have wagered so much of their lives, career and future on an American loss in Iraq … it is wonderful to see them grit their teeth at any talk of progress. Part of me wonders if people like Harry Reid actually get dissapointed on some level when they scan the front page of the New York Times and see that no servicemen or -women had given their lives in Iraq during the previous day.

Either way, Pelosi and her people sat quietly with hands in their laps when Bush said “we will deliver justice to our enemies” and, later, “nobody could have predicted the success over the past year.” With all that General David Petraeus has done over there, with all of the sacrifices made by our soldiers and by their families, with all of the success being seen province by province in Iraq, you’d think at least a golf clap would be in order.

Nothing. Liberals disgust me.

That being said, I wonder if Democratic party officials disseminate copies of the speech transcripts with little notes telling the congressional majority to “sit here,” “stand here, but not here,” and “clap here.”

He said some decent things, but I really wish he could have devoted some more time to Iran. More squirming time for the liberals.

At the mention of Darfur, however, the Democrats all shot up like Slick Willie’s gabardine at a Lane Bryant-sponsored wet t-shirt contest. It absolutely blows my mind how these people can wonder why we’re not doing more in Darfur and, in the same breath and without batting an eye, argue that we should immediately pull out of Iraq, knowing full well that civil war and a bloodbath would ensue.

In the wake of the problems at Walter Reed, the president was certain to address the government’s treatment of veterans. Bush correctly, of course, said that we need to treat veterans with the respect they deserve. Increased funding can only go so far, though. It’s a mentality, I think — we have the attention span of gnats in this country and we’re so obsessed with other useless stuff, I wonder if all that is part of how we seem to forget, so quickly, the sacrifices made by veterans, by active duty members and their families. The continued care of veterans IS a function of the federal government, as “[t]o raise and support Armies” appears smack-dab in the middle of the 17 powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Bush’s appeal that unused education benefits be transferrable to spouses and children is a good start.

All in all, I think that this speech will be one to be forgotten. Sure, it has to do with Bush’s legacy, but legacy is determined long enough in the future to see whether ideas panned out and ideals remain. Legacy, I’m sure, is something that America’s Right will naturally get to toward the end of this still-young year.


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