1.31.2006 | Grading the State of the Union

I'm no fan of Bush, but I have to admit, his speech was pretty good. Though I disagreed with half of what it had to say, Bush stayed on message, and his intended theme of optimism was resnonant. I was pleased to see him concede the issue of dependence on Middle East oil, though his emphasis on "technology" seems to lack environmental considerations (the issue of hydrogen, for example is promising, but the issue of hydrogen leakage is a problem that will need to be addressed up front).

My one problem with the speech was how he painted positions in the war on terror in stark terms (as he tends to do – remember "with us or against us"?), a black-and-white view of the world that doesn't reflect the reality on the ground. When he said there is a force in Iraq that grows every day more capable of defeating the enemy, I wasn't sure if he was talking about the American-trained Iraqi security forces or the insurgents. And "second-guessing is not a strategy?" – maybe if he had listened to people who had guessed correctly the first time that Iraq didn't have WMDs we wouldn't be in this mess.

Bush also failed to address many domestic issues, including healthcare (sorry, folks, but lawsuits aren't the reason the cost of healthcare is going up, and it's not the reason rural areas are having a hard time recruiting doctors). The priceless moment of this year's speech was when Democrats stood and applauded President Bush's statement that Congress didn't pass his Social Security "reform." His response was equally priceless – that spending on entitlement programs was "is not is a problem that is not going to go away." Apparently, so are his English skills.

But despite my problems with the speech (and Bush's problem with the English language), the speech overall left me reassured that, even if I disagree with him, we have a leader who's at least able to tell us what he thinks is going on (even if he does do it with a teleprompter). So, here are my grades:

Foreign PolicyC+
Domestic PolicyD
Quality of speechB+



Blogger Dean Rader said...

I liked very much your grade of the State of the Union address last night. Despite the President’s atypical demeanor, the speech itself seemed to typify the last seven years in office—unambitious, inspecific, and misdirected. As a professor and a scholar of media and visual culture, I thought it would be fun to *read* Mr. Bush’s speech through the lens of a typical student essay. He is, after all, sort of like a graduating senior in his last semester.

You can see the grade I gave Mr. Bush here:

2:24 PM  

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