Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The State of the Union address: A few observations 

Dawkins writes:

So maybe I'm a bit of a partisan when it comes to commenting on George W. Bush.

But viewing the speech as objectively and dispassionately as I possibly can, I'd say the thing was just about as peevish, partisan, and adversarial as you can possibly be. (At least, as opposed to the characterization "Somber and Determined" proffered by the New York Times front page this morning.)

The general rhetorical strategy was, of course, to divide, to snipe, to taunt the Democrats as much as possible.

The message:

"Terror, terror, terror, terror. We're at crippling, immediate risk of terror, and if you don't support the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq blindly and docilely, you're a traitor.

"Tax relief, tax relief. If you don't support making tax cuts for the rich permanent forever and ever, and if you insist on believing that the economy is not improving, you're an enemy of America and the American way of life.

"God, Christ, and the President. If you don't believe that God's desires are being enacted on earth by this President and his administration's policies, then you're a blasphemer of Christ and you're going straight to hell."

Now I hate to stoop to the level of the Tucker Carlsons and Ann Coulters and whine, in my own way, "But what about under Clinton?"

But seriously, as "partisan" as the atmosphere was during the Clinton years, there certainly never was a Clinton State of the Union address as tendentious and politically aggressive as Bush's last night. Even amidst impeachment, if I recall, Clinton delivered an address that ignored what was happening politically, and focused instead, as States of the Union should, on policy, collaborative effort, common cause. Of course, he could have easily, George W. Bush-style, shot out with:

"Impeachment. Those of you who are trying to impeach me now are hypocritical, cynical, sanctimonious swine, and you ought to be impeached too."

Thankfully, last night there were a few saving graces.

1. The Democrats' culture-jamming mid-sentence burst of applause during Bush's rant about the Patriot Act:

Bush: Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year…

Democrats: (Applause)

Bush: (Confused blink, petulant sneer)

Cut to: (Tom DeLay, standing, scowling, eyes darting with murderous intent toward the Democrats.)

Bush resumes: …The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule….

Republicans: (Applause. Yes, Republicans actually applauded at this line! "Yippee, terrorism as far as the eye can see!")

2. Then again when talking about tax cuts:

Bush: The tax reductions you passed are set to expire…

Democrats: (Applause)

Bush: (Peevish offense, school-yard bully fury) Unless you act (more Democratic applause) -- unless you act -- unless you act, the unfair tax on marriage will go back up.

3. Frequent reaction shots of Ted Kennedy throughout the speech, seated, shaking his head ruefully.

4. The farcically tortured new Iraq-war-WMD-justification terminology:

While last year it was something to the effect of, "Saddam currently has batteries of nuclear missiles trained and ready to fire at Washington, DC," last night it was, seriously:

"Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."

Yep. "Dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and "significant amounts of equipment."

Look out! "Significant amounts of equipment!"

Blicero adds: God I'm glad I missed this.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?