I wanted to give the speech another once over before commenting on it, so I waited until today to do so. My first reaction was and is that this is one of the finest speeches President Bush has ever given. Following on the heels of the Inaugural and last weekend's elections in Iraq, it was the final statement outlining the Bush approach for the next four years, and it speaks to me one word - vision.
This speech was structured very carefully to express not just the state of our Union now, but as the President asked the question about our children and future generations, "What will be the state of their union?" He then peppers the speech with references to our duty to them. And that is exactly right.
The first part of the speech dealt with domestic issues, but was almost entirely devoted to social security reform. I found it extremely odd and disconcerting to hear actual boos when Bush expressed that the system would go bankrupt if we do nothing about it's solvency. It seems to me that Democrats are entirely in denial about the fact that something must be done. I am not suggesting that all of Bush's proposals will fix it, but we must look at the issue and not pass the ball down to others to fix. I am heartened by this President's vision to not only patch the current hole in the problem, but to look for ways to fix it for good so that future generations won't have to do the same. But for some reason, Democrats (and even some Republicans) do not want to tackle the issue, or take it off the political field of play. That, in my opinion, is disgraceful.
However, I was a little shocked to hear Bush speak of "restraining the spending appetite of the federal government." He has yet to use his veto pen to do anything of the sort. It is one thing to speak of an issue, and something entirely other to actually do something about it. I applaud him saying something of that sort, as it is a necessity, but I would rather see him actively trying to slow the growth of the federal government, and thus spending. We will have to see how he responds in his second term, but if his first was any indication (and I mean outside of the efforts to fight terrorism) then I don't plan on holding my breath.
As well, I noticed he mentioned activist judges a few times, yet still backs an amendment to ban homosexual marriage. When will the short-sightedness of this issue cease? Whether we are discussing homosexual marriage, abortion or any other such issue that tends to get legislated from the bench, there still seems to be little vision in terms of halting such judicial legislation at the root rather than at the limbs. Once again, I call for some form of amendment that addresses the issue of judicial activism. Were we to tackle that rather than the myriad of issues that come into play because of it, we would find a far broader support. But not until someone begins that fight.
As far as the foreign policy part goes, I think it was a winner. He mentions Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iran and North Korea, making sure they are all aware that we are watching and we are waiting for them to do something about their problems before they spill over onto us (as if they already have not.) He championed the elections in Palestine, Ukraine, Afghanistan and especially Iraq. The picture of Safia Taleb al-Suhail alternating between Churchill's V for victory and the ink stained index fingure was powerful.
The perfect phrase from that section of the speech was,
The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace.
It says it all. And then to see the embrace between the mother of Sergeant Byron Norwood (killed in Fallujah) and Safia Taleb al-Suhail was a moment to reflect on all that has occured over the past four years. It brought me to tears, I admit. And to see that it was Janet Norwood who initiated the embrace made it all the more powerful. A perfect picture of those that "get it."
Bush ended his address with this,
As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "Each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." And we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream -- until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream -- until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream -- until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable -- yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.
Once again speaking of vision. The dream of something bigger than our petty partisan bickering. Would that more people in Washington look to this rather than their own political power base. But then you see the Democrat response, a response to something they have not even heard yet (which I always find a bit weird.) You see Reid trying to come across like a reasoned and moralizing Senator when in reality, he is only trying to dismiss the bold vision of Bush in order to justify their continued resistence not just to his plans but the actual words he says.
And Pelosi trying to somehow justify that since terrorists seem to have flocked to Iraq, then we should somehow get out? An example of completely looking past the issue. The Democrats (and paleoconservatives as well) are so adament that "Bush lied" and Iraq was the wrong war, that they cannot see what is looking at them directly in the face and has for the past three years. There are people that wish us dead. We must fight them or they will kill us. We cannot utilize diplomacy with them. They cannot be reasoned with. We can only make their arguments null and void by promoting freedom and liberty. That is their enemy. And it is working, no thanks to the mass of naysayers and anti-Bush partisans. Note the silence from the left regarding Iraqi elections over the past week. They don't know how to respond because they see that Bush was right and they were wrong. But they can't admit that publically (or most cannot - some have.)
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have very big issues to look at that go beyond parties, interest groups and the like. We must address these issues now before our children or their children have no choice. Bush has shown his vision and has been steadfast in following through with it. Not every decision or direction he has moved is to my liking, but I would rather have a man showing his boldness and vision and getting some things wrong than a man bending to popular will (one that seems to be frozen in inertia) and doing nothing so that the future will have to deal with far worse problems. Great speech, great moment and great vision. Excellent job, Mr. President. That is all.