He is like a Quarterback who stands up before the microphones, looks good, speaks with authority and says all the right things. “We will destroy the other team. We are stronger, meaner, tougher, and more focused. If we don’t attack, they will get us in our homes, rape our women and children, destroy our way of life. God is on our side.” It sounds great. Unfortunately he has to play the game. That is the rub with George Bush. He talks like a leader should talk, he walks like a tough guy should walk, but he just can’t play very well. His passes don’t hit his receivers and he keeps messing up the hand-offs. And many of his teammates just plain suck(Heck of a job, Brownie). I know it, and at this point most Americans see it too.
So did this particular State of the Union speech change anyone’s mind? Did he lay out a bold new vision or direction? Any great new initiatives that will significantly alter his standing in the polls? I listened, took notes, listened to the response, talked about both speeches on Subject 2 Discussion Tuesday night, listened to a whole host of TV analysis, NPR analysis and read numerous articles and blogs on the speech. My reaction is muted, blah, unexcited, wishing there were more, lots more, not in the number of words, but in substance. I feel disappointed, not only in the speech, but in the man, our President.
The most powerful man on earth has power to achieve true greatness. I sometimes think, “Oh if only I had that opportunity, what I could do.” I dream, he gets to act. And how has he acted? I won’t go down the laundry list of problems other than to say that this man is not the “Uniter, not Divider,” or Compassionate Conservative he alluded to during his first campaign. The management of government is a disaster–think Katrina, Iraq, the recent prescription drug plan, energy, the environment, huge deficits, and increasing disparity between rich and poor. Our international standing is horrible, and most people don’t trust him. After 5 years he has seriously divided our country. It seems we have our own form of religious fundamentalism running the government. He has had an opportunity that so few people have, to actually do something valuable to help the U.S. and lead the world to something better. He has seriously squandered that opportunity.
This State of the Union speech was another opportunity to set a better course. Instead we got more fear of terror, the march of freedom throughout the world, justification for his wiretaps, a recognition of our addiction to oil and the need to do something about our lagging educational system. I understand the issues. Some I agree with and some I don’t. That is not unusual. The problem is that they do not dig deep enough. There were too many platitudes, nothing to address the real problems, rally the country or offer anything substantial to actually solve these issues. And what he did propose we can’t trust. The following day the White House issued new statements that undercut the President’s energy addiction plan. Plus we soon learned that rather than increasing funding for alternative fuel research he was actually cutting it
The President clearly aimed this speech at the independent voters of America who could conceivably lift his approval ratings. Did he succeed in addressing their concerns? Were his warnings of terrorists striking America going to gain ground again? I wonder. He has used this play numerous times. Remember the escalating terror alerts before the last election? How many have we had since? Will Americans fall for this again? I think that more people are deeply sceptical. They listen to his calls for bipartisanship, but then read that he still refuses to release information about Abramoff/White House meetings. He stonewalls about the Valerie Plame leak, he refuses to discuss his wiretaps. The call to increase funding for alternative fuels meets a wary eye. How much money is he talking about? Will it really happen? What will be the end result? He talks threats to America but plans on cuts to the National Guard and Reserve forces. How is that going to help our security?
I was asked Tuesday night if there was anything he said that might help the Republicans in this fall’s elections. I replied that I heard nothing that indicated anything other than more of the same. What he did propose was too small to have much impact. If large numbers of troops come home, it might help, but it doesn’t appear like too many will return by year’s end.
My grandpa always said that talk was cheap, actions are expensive. George has talked a good game over the past five years, with his so-called leadership, looking tough behind the podium, walking with that swagger to the Presidential helicopter. He is more like an actor playing President than the actor that became President. I think of Chauncey Gardiner, in the movie Being There, too much of America is captivated by this man’s empty rhetoric.