President Bush commenced his re-election
campaign last night with a host of policy promises expressing
unwavering loyalty to his conservative base and the special
interests that placed him in the Oval Office. After months of
political thrashings from the Democratic presidential candidates
and their attendant media flurry, Bush finally had an opportunity
to reconcile with an alienated Democratic Party and its
constituency. Unfortunately, with a series of tired expressions and
an obstinately conservative demeanor, the president squandered his
chance to show a capacity for moderation.
Bush began the address by touting his self-proclaimed foreign
policy accomplishments. After making it clear that the U.S.
military will continue its crusade to kill terrorists and thwart
evil, Bush set out to explain a potential, but unrealized
U.S.-induced global stability.
For example, in the perpetually war-torn state of Afghanistan
where ethnic discord has impeded multiple attempts to create a
constitution, Bush described a thriving democracy where all
citizens are endowed with health care and all students provided
In Iraq, a country where at least one allied soldier per day is
killed by a small arms assault or a crudely executed suicide
attack, and internal Shiite factions have voiced unyielding
opposition to the U.S. proposed system of delegate appointment and
proportional democracy, Bush depicts a sound and secure American
occupation and a smoothly paved transition to democracy.
By the time Bush started articulating his domestic platform the
clutch of his conservative base had graduated to an all out
embrace. Bush’s State of the Union was filled with a
multitude of belated Christmas gifts for social and fiscal
traditionalists and the Religious Right. With an overly optimistic
economic diagnosis, Bush places credit on his tax cuts for an
economic climb out of recession, advocating that they be made
permanent. In doing this, Bush managed to virtually ignore
staggering unemployment rates and a $500 million budget deficit. In
plugging his education plan, Bush references the extension of more
Pell grants for college students — a set of funds he recently
cut. Conservative ideology continued to flood the address as Bush
promised to continue moving both Social Security and health care
onto private and market-based pathways.
Perhaps the most notable dispensation to the right wing was
Bush’s promise to protect the “sanctity’ of
marriage between a man and woman. Coming in a close second was the
pledge to award government grants to faith-based charities, a
policy that turns a virtual blind eye to the First Amendment.
Overall, whether one evaluates the State of the Union from the
perspective of a political analyst or a concerned citizen,
Bush’s State of the Union was a catastrophe. Squandering the
opportunity to show a tolerance for bipartisanship and cooperation
was both a political blunder and a bad sign for this