Monday, January 28, 2008

The State of the Union Adress 2008 (Cont.)

So it wasn’t much of a barn burner after all. A very blah speech. Not too many surprises, though apparently there were 71 applause lines.

Things Bush covered: (with my comments interspersed between)

- There’s unfinished business to be done!

DOMESTIC POLICY:

The Economy:
- There’s economic uncertainty to deal with, but the stimulus package is coming
- Need to cut $18 billion in spending (anywhere but Iraq please!)
- Need to make tax cuts permanent so the U.S. can go further into debt!
- Must help the housing market

Health Care:
- No to government health care! (because surely we shouldn't trust the government to do anything except wage wars)
- Need to take on those darn trial lawyers (because victims of medical malpractice don’t really deserve any compensation apparently)

Education:
- No Child Left Behind is an undisputed success! (Any teachers in the U.S. watching must have loved that part)
- Wants $300 million for pell grants to take kids out of crumbling public schools and helping them go to private or faith based schools. Just the attitude we need, let’s abandon the crumbling schools completely and just encourage all the students to leave (maybe I didn’t get that 100% correct but that’s what it sounded like he was proposing)

Trade:
- Wants a trade deal with Columbia ASAP (Democrats did not look too impressed, justifiably so, Columbia has a horrible human rights record and is far from the model for the region Bush claimed)
- Said for the millionth time he wants to conclude the Doha round

Energy/Environment:
- Believes technology will save us from the problems of climate change
- Wants a new international clean technology fund to help developing countries (sounds like the Clean Development Mechanism from the Kyoto protocol to me)
- Wants an international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but everyone else in the world must sign on first (otherwise known as the Harper/Bush strategy for doing nothing)

Justice:
- Need more constructionist judges! Those judges have gotten out of control.

Immigration:
- Working to secure the borders, hired more border guards
- Need to have lawful way for foreign works to come support economy and needs sensible solution for illegal immigrants (Bush is at least more sensible on this issue than most other Republicans, but I’d put much more trust in the next Democratic President to handle this issue best)

FOREIGN POLICY:

- Democracy is on the march, etc…
- Mentions assassinations of Hariri in Lebanon and Bhutto in Pakistan (interesting comparison since the U.S. agreed to have an international UN investigation of Hariri’s death, but not Bhutto’s, wonder why?)

Afghanistan:
- It’s a new young democracy, new roads/hospitals. Everyone is hopeful now.
- Will add 2000-3000 marines

Iraq:
- U.S. changed course with the surge, it’s working!
- Iraqis welcomed the extra troops with flowers. They were so happy we weren't leaving (yes this is pretty much what he said).
- Iraqis being trained performing well.
- There’s also an Anbar awakening and a "grassroots surge” going on with the Iraqis.
- Few of us could have seen this a year ago
- Al Queda used to have safe havens, no longer!
- Terrorist attacks down, militia fighters captured and defeated, mission accomplished! (ok but he almost said it)
- "Al Queda is on the run!" (I called it!)
- Soldiers will get everything they need, this time we swear!
- Of course, wants Congress to give more money to Iraq
- Iraqi Parliament making progress, must be patient (we've been hearing that for awhile....)
- Must win in Iraq or U.S. will be attacked again (because of course Iraq was linked to 9/11)

Israel:
- He’ll succeed where the past few decades of Presidents have failed.
- Two state peace agreement will come by end of 2008 (believe it when I see it)

Iran:
- Wherever freedom advances, Iran opposes it
- Bush loves the Iranian people. But he’s got a warning for the government, they have to suspend uranium enrichment and stop supporting terror or else. (didn't sound quite as gung ho as in previous years)

Counter-Terrorism efforts:
- Takes credit for there being no attacks, says they stopped some
- Still needs to spy on people's conversations.
- Need to pass wire-tapping legislation again before it expires at the end of this month (Democrats sit on their hands in response, something tells me Bush won’t get his wish)

Foreign Aid:
- American leads the world in foreign aid and fighting disease and world hunger (in absolute terms maybe, far from it in per capita terms)
- Wants Congress to approve an additional $30 billion for fighting HIV/Aids in the third world (this sounds encouraging, but I’m very skeptical that there won’t be many strings attached such as it going only to abstinence programs or something)

Troops/Veterans:
- Need to treat our veterans better
- Need to allow troops to transfer their health and education benefits to spouses and children (this got applause from both sides)

And the usual finale: “God bless America.”

So I was wrong, Bush didn’t say the State of the Union was strong. I guess he doesn’t think so. The speech was basically typical Bush though. There were a couple initiatives that sounded decent, but as is the case with everything you’d need more info to say for sure. At the same time I think Bush jumped the gun way too much on Iraq in his speech, as things are very far from anything resembling peace there right now, a lull in violence doesn't mean things will stay that way just ask Israel.

Either way, this speech will go down as being pretty inconsequential. Bush accomplished little so far this term, I highly doubt that will change during an Election year. I think few people will be sad to see him go.

Hopefully this time next year, we’ll witness the inauguration of a Democratic President who will turn the page on a sad chapter in U.S. history.


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