Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Same Ol’ Tune, Just a Different Time

[[R E A C T I O N]] * George W. Bush’s fifth State of the Union address has come and gone, without making much of a dent on the American psyche. As expected, there were few specific recommendations and still fewer reasons to feel any more hopeful in the speech’s aftermath than you might have felt tuning into it. Aside from his bizarre call for a ban on “creating human-animal hybrids” (has that been going on already, and I’ve missed it?), Dubya didn’t even generate as much news tonight as antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan did by trying, unsuccessfully, to enter the crowded House gallery wearing a T-shirt that asked, in reference to the climbing number of U.S. casualties in Bush’s Iraq war, “2,245 Dead--How Many More?” Yet already there’s plenty of chatter about this SOTU streaming through the blogosphere. A few highlights:

BobGeiger.com: “I admit it, I was wrong. My money was on Bush mentioning September 11 within 60 seconds of starting his speech, but it didn’t happen for three minutes and 33 seconds. I stand humbled by his restraint. ... Democrats stood and applauded when Bush tried to chide the Congress for not embracing his Social Security scheme and really showed him up by using the failure of his plan as reason for a standing ovation.”

DarkSyde at Daily Kos: “In what in my opinion ranks among the most predictably tedious, warmed over State of the Union performances ever televised, one glaring tidbit from tonight’s rendition demands I throw something up here right now (and I mean that viscerally as well as metaphorically). I would have thought it was parody had I not seen it with my own eyes: George W. Bush publicly wringing his hands about our dependence on foreign oil as well as the sorry state of math and science education in the U.S. It almost sounded to me like any day now, the President will saddle up the wild bucking bronco of research and single-handedly ride it to the alternative energy rescue. Yippee-yi-yay! The President was right about one thing though: We are losing our edge in science and technology. Maybe that’s due in large part to the current Republican body politic, which has been leading the vicious charge against science in every way for years on end ...

Think Progress:Bush said: ‘Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars.’ FACT--BUSH HAS PRESIDED OVER SUSTAINED, RECORD DEFICITS: In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush promised that ‘our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term.’ Bush has not kept his promise. The 2005 U.S. budget deficit was $319 billion, the ‘third-largest ever.’ Goldman Sachs predicts $5 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years and Federal Chairman Alan Greenspan argued last April that ‘the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. ... Unless that trend is reversed, at some point these deficits would cause the economy to stagnate or worse.’”

Tim Grieve, Salon’s War Room: “‘With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor.’ Those words came in the middle of George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech, and we certainly can’t disagree with them. We only wish the president would live up to them.”

Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post: “The president also brought back that old chestnut, the line-item veto. This from a man who has yet to veto a single bill. In over five years in office. I guess the line item veto was this year’s voyage to Mars.”

Craig Crawford, Crawfordlist: “A major metropolitan area wiped nearly off the face of the Earth, and it merits only six sentences on the next-to-last page of the President’s State of the Union Address tonight?!?!? Can there be any more proof that the federal government is washing its hands of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history? Dozens and dozens of paragraphs on rebuilding other nations, but barely a mention of New Orleans.”

David Corn, The Nation: “Bush twice referred to Jackgate--the congressional corruption scandal tied to felonious GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. First, he equated public concern ‘about unethical conduct by public officials’ with worries about ‘activist courts that try to redefine marriage.’ Seriously, he did, suggesting a moral equivalency between sleazy and criminal lawmakers and judges who decide that state constitutions require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

Scott Shields, MyDD: “Bush during the SOTU: ‘In recent years, America has become a more hopeful Nation.’ Hmmm ... Averaging the six latest polls at Polling Report, it seems that 61% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Yet, according to The Wall Street Journal, only 41% of Americans felt the country was on the wrong track by the end of President Clinton’s tenure in October 2000. So how exactly does that translate into America becoming more hopeful in the past few years?”

Michael J.W. Stickings, The Reaction: “He once again linked 9/11 to Iraq, closed off debate where debate could challenge his facile worldview and failed policies, vilified his opponents as somehow unpatriotic, justified unethical and perhaps illegal conduct, reduced complex issues down to a state of black-and-white polarization, glossed over his own and his administration’s mismanagement of affairs domestic and foreign, and, as usual, offered nothing in the way of concrete solutions to America’s, and the world’s, problems.”

John Aravosis, AMERICAblog: “What about Mars? I’m only half joking. Every State of the Union has some grand idea in it. What was the grand idea here? Continue the tax cuts? That’s real popular. Promote democracy in all those OTHER countries Bush named tonight? Oh yeah, THAT will be REALLY popular with the American people--after all, Bush has done such a good job promoting democracy in the countries we’ve already invaded (let alone in the U.S.).”

READ MORE:Bold Visions Have Given Way to New Reality,” by David E. Sanger (The New York Times); “Lowered Expectations Reflect Political and Fiscal Realities,” by Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei (The Washington Post); “Same Old Song,” by Michael Scherer (Salon); “Whose Addiction: Bush’s Surprisingly Partisan Speech,” by John Dickerson (Slate); “Fuels Gold,” by Julian Borger (The Guardian); “The Real State of the Union,” by Pessimist (The Left Coaster); “Out of Gas: Bush’s Sputtering State of the Union,” by Jacob Weisberg (Slate); “We Needed Apollo, We Got a Bottle Rocket,” by Devilstower (Political Cortex); “Bush’s State of the Union: Marking Time or Noting Realities?” by Joe Gandelman (The Moderate Voice); ); “The Cut-and-Paste State of the Union: On Foreign Affairs, the Speech Was Full of Anachronisms and Meaningless Spin,” by Fred Kaplan (Slate); “A Night of Fear Mongering, Big Time,” by Jason Leopold (TruthOut); “State of the Union: The End of Denial?” by Carl Pope (The Huffington Post); “Beware of What You Wish For,” by F. Gregory Gause III (Foreign Affairs).

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