Wednesday, January 24

State of the blah blah zzzzzzz.

If I ever get elected president, I already have the intro to my speech worked out. It will shoot my approval ratings up to record highs and will instantly join the pantheon of the greatest speeches in political history.

It will begin thusly:

Thank you. Thank you very much. Before I begin, if I may, a request.

I know it's traditional for the entire chamber to break into applause, and in some cases standing ovations, after every mention of a stirring political success or groundbreaking policy proposal. I can only hope that some of you will flatter me tonight by wanting to do the same. However, I would respectfully ask that you hold all applause until the end of the speech. If we do that, then we can all get home to our families sooner, the people watching at home can get back to watching their shows, and everyone's a happy American camper.

Now then. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Herseth, First Lady Theuriau, members of Congress, distinguished guests, particularly the 2034 national-champion Georgia Bulldogs up there in the gallery, and fellow citizens:


As for the actual State of the Union last night? Read it, didn't watch it (because I can read fast and don't have to stop for 30 seconds on every "Applause" line). And honestly, there was some good stuff in it. Tax deductions for health insurance? Sure. Energy independence? Yes please. Immigration reform? Yeah, probably gonna need that too. There's just one problem: For Bush, the State of the Union has turned into a repository of grand ideas he can truck out just long enough to give lip service on one of politics' biggest stages and then push down the memory hole like a child trying to "clean his room" by cramming everything into the closet and hoping it holds. Remember hydrogen-powered cars? Remember Mars, Bitches? Bush probably doesn't, and given that he's only got two lame-duck years left in his presidency, I doubt he's going to remember any of the things he said in this speech, either.

Of course, the difference between Bush's last five speeches and this one is that now he's actually got an opposition Congress who can hold him to these promises instead of chucking them aside to focus on gay married fetus burning or whatever Donald Wildmon happens to be raving about. But it's incumbent upon that Democratic Congress (and yes, folks, it is a Democratic Congress, not a Democrat Congress; Democrat is a noun, while Democratic is an adjective) to not wait for Bush to actually make any movement on these pseudo-promises. You want to, say, expand the use of hybrids and biodiesel fuel? Or balance the budget? Take the initiative and do it yourselves -- propose something and then force Bush to make good on what he said he wanted to do. If all you have the stones to do is wait for Bush to make the first move, you better bring a book, and it should probably be a nice long one, like Infinite Jest or Gravity's Rainbow.

Seriously, with Bush's approval ratings scraping Nixonian levels and most of the rest of the Republican Party turning on itself like the two-headed snake from the Ripley's Belive It Or Not! Museum, this is a chance to re-establish the Democratic Party as the party that's actually good at governing, the party that knows what they're doing, the party so well-run and in-control that it can clean up the manifold messes left by a group that controlled all three branches of government for six years yet left a legacy of nothing more than a shittily-run war and several failed stabs at a gay-marriage amendment. It's your show, guys, and if you can't come up with anything better to do for the next two years than whine about an obstructionist minority -- i.e., all the previous three Congresses did -- I'm going to be very disappointed.

Fortunately, I have reason to hope that they won't do that. So far, Nancy Pelosi has been a more effective speaker than anybody was willing to give her credit for back in November. Jim Webb gave the kind of Democratic response to the SOTU that indicated more courage and resolve than we're used to seeing from the Democrats (or even the Republicans, lately). Keep this going, guys. As advice columnists the world over have said, confidence is sexy, and if you really think you can do a better job of running the country, the first step is to act like it.

13 comments:

gfc said...

Jim Webb gave a very strong response, for which he will receive little credit (despite the fact that he turned down the DNC prewritten script and wrote it himself) and much scorn from the Righties.

Anonymous said...

I just wish either party had the stones to refer to terrorism as "Islamic" instead of "international."

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that employer-provided Health Insurance would now become taxable income. Whoops! Forgot to mention that last night.

Anonymous said...

Not all terrorists targeting the US are Islamic, and we should be concerned about all, not just the Islamic, components of terrorism if it is a real threat. Timothy McVeigh was not Islamic...

Anonymous said...

It's the state of the union address, not some rhetorical masterpiece, so there's no reason to have expected anything more than a list of what we're going to do.

It won't really matter, because the Democratic majority will either be so zealous in attacking the administration as to look stupid, or so afraid of doing anything that they'll just sit there for two years. There's no way that the Democrats can find any medium.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Timothy McVeigh didn't have a billion followers.

Anonymous said...

No he didn't, but there are some secular organizations waging war in Iraq that were Saddam followers.

Though, yes, I would concede the primary struggle is with radical, fanatic Islamic extremists. Of course, the reason they cling to this extremist ideology is tied to a variety of factors which are incredibly complex. It ain't like it's people who just go 'gee it'd be great to strap on some explosives and walk into a shopping mall.'

Something is terribly wrong and, for some awful reason, that option seems to be the 'better' way.

Anonymous said...

Also ... the Jim Webb response was very good.

DC Trojan said...

Anonymous, the Democrats could equally sit back for two years and let the Bush Administration continue a slo-mo implosion. If there are still boots on the ground in Iraq in 2008 then by Christmas you're going to be finding ways to explain to us how the Democrats won't find any way to achieve anything with the White House and Congress in hand.

Anonymous said...

C'mon DC, the Democrats aren't going to get the White House in '08. Silly.

(Not that I'm necessarily going to be voting Republican.)

Doug said...

Uh-huh. I'll believe it when I see it.

Anonymous said...

I said "necessarily." Depending on the candidate, I very well might.

I don't see any realistic scenario thus far where the Democrats win the White House back, though. That's not my personal politics talking; it's the lack of electable options for the Democrats so far. Hillary, Obama and Edwards won't beat Giuliani (my prediction for the Republican ticket).

Hey, it would never be easier for the Democrats to take one, but you need the candidate.

Doug said...

Your faith in the sanity of the Republican Party as a whole is touching, but if you think the evangelical base is going to let a pro-choice, pro-gay-rights New Yorker out of the primaries alive, we need to have a talk.