First, before we get into it, anyone else notice that the president said "Democrat Party" instead of "Democratic Party" even though the written text of his speech read "Democratic Party?" In other words, the president deliberately strayed from his prepared remarks just so he could work in a veiled insult. This is the president who never improvises during his public addresses (gaffes don't count as improv). It pretty much negated all of his phony-baloney kudos to Speaker Pelosi, as well as his pledge to "cross that aisle" in the spirit of bipartisanship. It was kind of like saying to your wife, "I love those shoes. They make you look way sexy. Yeah. I'll call you from my cell when I leave the Spearmint Rhino. Bye!"
Down to it. Of all the remarks by the president, the one that stuck with me the most was the following:
"We are sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out."
Finding the terrorists and clearing them out. Right. What's the old maxim? Picking gnat shit out of pepper? This represents the same kind of simplified language the president has employed since the beginning of all of this -- the same sloganeering that shoved us into Iraq without a plan to win and get out. Go in there and get 'em, Private Stretch! That's the plan. No details as to how our soldiers might identify "the terrorists" as opposed to "the non-terrorists." This is the brand of euphemistic, misleading silliness that leads certain Americans (Hannity) to believe that it's still a winnable war: all we need to do is lasso the bunch of them. No reprisals, no collateral damage, no blowback. Clear them out. That's it.
Al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents don't wear giant foam cowboy hats -- no identifying uniforms or I'm al-Qaeda And I Vote bumper stickers. In Good Morning, Vietnam, Robin Williams said, "Well, we walk up to someone and say, 'Are you the enemy?' And, if they say yes, then we shoot them." What the president vaguely described is, in reality, a nightmare scenario for our soldiers. They'll be placed, once again, in the deadly and unfortunate position of finding an enemy who is completely blended with the populace. How can anyone expect our best fighting men and women to engage in this kind of fight?
As a result, there will be many accidental shootings of innocent Iraqi citizens and subsequently an increased level of anti-Americanism. And of course there's the blowback. With every civilian unlawfully arrested or killed, the seeds of hatred and vengeance are planted.
Moving on. I had a really difficult time believing the president's plan to reduce gas consumption by 2017 with Vice President Hydrocarbon performing a spit-take in the background. I even turned the volume up really loud to see if I could hear his Penguin-ish, "Wah! Wahwahwah! That's rich." In case you missed it, when the president introduced this plan, the vice president, who was up to that moment practically asleep, almost laughed out loud. Big crooked grin across his face.
Why? Because this is the same administration that helped to pull electric cars off the road. This is the administration that's subsidizing the oil industry with our money. This is a group of politicians who are allowing oil companies to drill on public land -- for free. The Iraq invasion and occupation has been almost entirely about oil profits. If the vice president's LOL was any indication, there's no chance in hell they really intend to push this.
If the president really meant what he said about energy, he would've proposed renewed tax incentives for rooftop solar panels -- the same kind of incentives President Carter created and President Reagan eliminated in his first term. President Bush loves tax cuts, so how about it? Instead, he recycled last year's paragraph about grass and wood chips. Neither of which have shown much promise for immediate practical use.
Suffice to say, for someone who loves a good crisis, this president won't recognize a genuine crisis like global warming until he's clearing out dead horseshoe crabs along with the brush on his Crawford beachfront property. Even then, many years from now, he'll probably stand there alone on his ranch -- watching high tide roll in and repeating to himself, "Come on, wood chips!"
In all, the president clearly intends to coast through his last two years without any legacy-building goals, and as such will allow Iraq to be his legacy as well as the legacy of this decade in American history. The remaining years of the Bush administration will continue much like the previous six, and is best described by one of his State of the Union alternative energy sources: agricultural waste. Also known as bullshit.
MISSING FROM THE PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS: the words "middle class" and "New Orleans." But we did hear the words "Baby Einsteins", "Disney" and "NBA," which was awesome and made up for the oversight.
UPDATE, Wednesday morning: Also, no mention of stem cell research. Michael J. Fox was seated in the gallery as a guest of Congressman Jim Langevin, D-R.I.
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