Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SOTU Response

Andrew Sullivan has a series of good posts on the emptiness of Bush's State of the Union Address. Here's a representative example, under the headline “Sorry:”

...but I thought this speech lacked a real focus, and rehashed thoroughly exhausted tropes and phrases. The speech's key attention-grabber was the “addicted to oil” line. But after five years of being the oil-president, he needs to add a lot more substance to back up the counter-intuitive headline. On the critical question, Iraq, he said all the right things; and I believe he deserves support in navigating the path ahead, however twisted the path to this point. But I'd like to see more meat on those bones, and clear evidence of political progress and improved security. I guess, on this subject, I've just learned to follow what he does, rather than what he says. The calls for bi-partisanship, on the other hand, and for an entitlements commission, for Pete's sake, sounded ... well, desperate. Bottom line: this speech will rise without trace. And be remembered by almost no one.

I agree completely, including the part about Iraq.

I also liked Sullivan's take on the Democratic reponse, delivered by my incomping Governor:

Kaine looks good. Great idea to have a governor, an executive, standing with that big red tie. And the first thing you hear from him is that he was once a missionary. God, God, God for the first few minutes. Then competence and “good management.” Nice touch on Katrina response; even more effective on the Medicare mess. And finally, we have a real challenge on fiscal recklessness. Pity it took a Democrat. Nice line on “inaccurate information” about war intelligence. Much better than the “misled” line (which Begala is now repeating).The same blather on energy independence as the president. And then ... God and service. All in all, I'd say it's easily the best Democratic response I've seen since Bush took office. Of course, the standard was, well, two words: Nancy Pelosi. Bush: C+. Kaine B+. That's my immediate gut response. I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow.

I find nothing at his blog today to indicate that he has, in fact, changed his mind.

Sullivan's comments, coming from a conservative perspective, were a welcome change to the predictable Bush sycophancy of MSNBC (I didn't even bother watching Fox). There was Chris Matthews with his usual cadre of lickspittles, gushing about how strong Bush looked and how weak and timid Kaine looked. You know it's bad when former Republican representative Joe Scarborough is the most critical voice among the regular panelists.

On the other hand, Arianna Huffington was less impressed with Kaine:

While Kaine was droning on, I closed my eyes and imagined Jack Murtha giving the response, someone with the authority to do much more than second guess -- to offer an alternative strategy on Iraq and the war on terror, as opposed to Kaine‚Äôs program of &ldwuo;service and competent management.” And I thought “competence” had gone out of vogue with Michael Dukakis.

Guess you can't please everyone.


At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ms. Huffington (admittedly based upon limited data) - what little I saw of Kaine was not impressive, and there is a bigger philosophical issue of the Democrats simply being "Republicans lite"

The whole bit about Mr. Kaine being a former missionary - and the God, God, God bit... disgusting! And moreover it should be disgusting to people of all faiths and to those who do not believe.

What people obviously don't see is the danger of judging people by their private lives. There are many great and highly moral people (including a large proportion of atheists) who would make horrible administrators. There are many civic minded people who would do a great job in politics who do things in their private lives that many of the voters may not like. The real problem is that there is a correlation between public and private behavior - but it is imperfect. Thus, there might be folks who would have relationships in addition to that with their spouse who wouldn't dream of say, cooking the books. Then there are those who would - as Dylan put it - rob you with a fountain pen. I suspect some of those individuals are leading sex lives that even Pat Robertson would find exemplary (wait, didn't Robertson have some child out of wedlock issues...)

The reality is that none of of should care if Robertson fathers 100 kids out of wedlock (well, other than the hypocrasy, and the fact that 100 kids shows a real lack of judgement, but we should only care for those reasons - plus there is the fact that he is a nutball, an even bigger reason not to dig him...). If he were running for public office, we should care about his competence and his ideas (well, in PR's case, the whole nutball thing would knock him out on those grounds)

What we need is for somebody politics to stand up and say -

I'm not going to tell you anything about my religion, or whether I believe in God or not. That is not relevant. I will tell you that I believe in the golden rule, a principle that is - contrary to the erronious views of some - common to humanists and people of many different faiths. Applying this principle to public life means that I will duty bound to do my best to work toward a common good for all - protecting the rights of all. That is why I am not telling you about my belief or lack of belief in God. I have every right to believe whatever I want privately - as have you all - but all of us have a right not to have the beliefs of others forced upon us. To do so places us on a course that could end in the same place as Iran... ask yourself this - do you want an American theocracy? If you do, don't vote for me. But if you want freedom to believe what you wish, as long as those beliefs do not harm or infringe upon the rights of other- then you should vote for me.

But we won't get anything like that anytime soon.



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