The Belgravia Dispatch pretty much sums up my opinion about the SOTU address (and I sorry for the delay posting this, but I have been busy):
This SOTU felt like something of a requiem. It was almost painful to watch. Like, say, Jacques Chirac, the President seemed a dead man walking. The domestic policy part, despite some initiatives of arguable import (energy conservation, health insurance), reeked of half-hearted delivery, a sense that little of it would come to fruition, in short, that is was mere filler/prologue. Put simply, Bush’s heart wasn’t in the domestic policy section (and Cheney even mischievously winked to the gallery during one of the reduction in energy usage parts). None of it was truly convincing, in the least.
Then Bush transitioned to foreign policy (after the obligatory homeland security boiler-plate), the linch-pin of his Presidency, and how his legacy will largely be determined. And of this section, what can one say? His tactical political goal was clear, stop the hemorrhaging in support of Republicans on the Hill. Might he have swayed a Norm Coleman, say, to stay on the reservation and support Plus-Up? Maybe, but it was weak fare, a recitation of much that had been said before, and nothing I heard tonight gave any additional faith that injection of 17,500 troops into a raging civil war in the capital city of Iraq will change the direction of the conflict absent massive crisis management with all the key neighbors via a diplomatic offensive led by a chief diplomat of real caliber (if one were available).
On the domestic issues, I heard a political version of the Peanuts teacher- “Waah wah wah Health care wah wah wah oil consumption waha wah wah.” My eyes just glazed over. I know none of that isgoing to happen. You know none of that is going to happen. The people applauding in the chamber know it is not going to happen. Bush and his speechwriters knew it was not going to happen. It was silliness, and even if the policies have merit and should happen, do you really trust this band of imbeciles to implement them? I sure as hell don’t, and Belgravia nailed it (although minor quibble- the title of his post should have been Dead Man Talking).
As to the foreign policy stuff, meh. The usual lofty rhetoric was present (although I didn’t see any axis of evil stuff):
In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.
This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and come to kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom — societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers, and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security … we must.
Blah blah blah. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Most silly of all is that his rhetoric about the severity and importance of this struggle does not even have any internal consistency, for a little bit later we learn:
One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military — so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.
Six years in to the greatest threat to our society EVAH, and the decider has chosen now is the time, over the course of five years, to increase the military by 92,000 men. That isn’t even enough to handle what is needed to address our losing affair in Iraq and our mission in Afghanistan, and those won’t be ready for five years.
Q: How serious is this struggle if we don’t have any sense of urgency about it?
A: About as serious as Hugh Hewitt and the Bush dead enders, I presume. Faced with the prospect of actual dissent and treason within the Republican ranks after Hagel’s well-deserved and passionate speech yesterday, brave bloggers worldwide created a bizarre and troubling pledge for everyone to ‘sign.’ The pledge:
If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.
The current signatories include serious military thinkers such as Hugh “HARRIET MIERS IS THE BOMB” Hewitt and Dan “God hates fags” Riehl, and, of course Red State, which used to be conservative but now is little more than a sad exercise in Rovian doublespeak (but they hate Democrats, so that counts for something!). The whole list of signatories can be found here. It is hard to describe how creepy and, well, authoritarian this nonsense is, but Glenn Greenwald does an able job of it.
I tried to think of some other pledges to take the place of this exercise in lunacy, and this is what I came up with for all these Bush diehards:
“Follow Bush over a cliff or we will make sure that we are a Southern regional religionist party with 12 seats in the Senate!”
Not only is supporting Bush with this piddling surge a terrible idea for Iraq and for our troops, it is politically stupid. The deep thinkers on the Bush diehard right have decided, however, to double down. Now not only will the GOP be under assault in 2008 externally for their hideous decision-making, horrible leadership, and sickening fealty to the rotting Bush regime, but now we can set up some internecine warfare to boot. Sounds like a plan, guys.
And that is where we are. Iraq is a disaster, our military is strained, the administration is drained, under assault, worried about the Libby trial, and devoid of leadership and bereft of ideas. If that wasn’t clear before the State of the Union, it sure as hell should be now. It would be premature to call the Bush Presidency dead, as we still have two years of watching them slowly rot while spreading further their cancer into the body politic. Personally, I am going to hold my nose and try to pretend it is not partially my fault we are in this mess.