Is the State of the Union (Address) Good?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:10 AM

Well, I was hoping to get this up on Wednesday, but hopefully it will still be worth reading (if only to kill time). It's my State of the State of the Union commentary. Read on to hear what I have to say…

On Tuesday, Americans around the country gathered for that highly anticipated event on television and radio that happens just once a year. No, it wasn't the Super Bowl delayed by two days, it was the annual State of the Union address by the President of the United States, and this time around, everyone nervously anticipated whether President Bush would use the opportunity to declare war.

Surprisingly, he didn't. Rather than a unilateral declaration of war, over half of the address was spent talking about various domestic issues. It was certainly reassuring to see that the President was keeping up on other issues beyond what to do with Iraq, and many of his proposals sounded both bold and laudable.

Unfortunately, while he ran on a conservative platform of more responsible spending, and even during the speech, emphasized the need for the country not to grow its budget faster than the incomes of those it serves, it seemed that the President was suffering a bad case of “fuzzy math.” Although he managed to emphasize the tax cuts that his core supporters and party want, it was unfortunate that he also unveiled billions of dollars in new spending. Considering that the federal budget is already running up a large deficit, I found it puzzling that President Bush was proposing more spending and more tax cuts at the same time.

Still, on other issues that he covered, his positions seemed to be sizably less contradictory, thankfully. For example, it was good to see the President speak boldly against the threats of human cloning and urge the legislators to pass a ban on the same this year. It was at this point that he seemed on a roll as he also spoke out for preserving “human dignity” by pushing for a ban on partial birth abortion. These were the kind of things that had made President Bush's campaign the dynamic, successful one that it was, and it was nice to see that he hadn?t given up all of his values in his attempt to be a “unifier and not a divider.”

Then came Iraq. After attempting, rather unsuccessfully, to use the North Korean crisis as a launching board for why we should attack Iraq — odd logic indeed — the President dove into the issue everyone was really waiting to hear him speak on. Considering that the State of the Union address is hardly the proper place for declassifying information, the President did do a good job of providing a convincing “I really do know something I'm not saying yet” element to his discussion of Iraq.

I was pleased to see that the President's plan includes sending Secretary Powell to the United Nations on the fifth of February. While I have long been an opponent of the United Nations and its attempts at encroachment on national sovereignty, in this case it would seem that working with the UN security council, and hopefully convincing them to support us, will lend more credibility and strength to the United States' effort to depose the Iraqi regime.

All of this built up to the “big idea” of the evening as the President concluded that, based on the evidence, if Iraq is not an evil regime, then “evil has no meaning.” Indeed, the details, if they can be proven true, would show that Iraq has violated virtually every core point in the 1991 ceasefire agreements, as well as basic human rights laws that would most certainly put Saddam Hussein in line for a crimes against humanity trial.

The real question though, was left up the air. I think virtually no one doubted that the current administration is determined to get the regime change that it desires, however, the question of when was not addressed. Considering Powell's scheduled meeting with the UN Security Council next week, we know there is at least a week, but after that, things become significantly harder to figure out.

In summary, as usual, the State of the Union address was interesting; although not necessarily informative on the issues we all really wanted to know about. At least it did give the pundits something to talk about.

Tim Butler is the guy that writes this journal. He also writes on the computer industry at Open for Business.

Tags: Politics

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