Like no other President before him, Bush has sharpened the State of Union into a speech that increasingly is a race between arrogance and make believe. In fact, Bush has succeeded mightily in turning this speech into the most irrelevant exercise of our political life because you know that no matter what he says that appears to be new, he will continue to do exactly what he has been doing.
This year, he didn't even bother to engage in the charade of offering "new" ideas, instead offering a redux of last year's speech -- with no changes in the same old ideas to reflect new information or ongoing difficulties. The only thing missing from his "greatest" hits was his proposal of yesteryear to provide a manned mission to Mars.
Most importantly, we heard nothing but tall tales of progress when it comes to Iraq. In a week where a journalist is being held hostage and another was seriously wounded, it is clear Iraq is falling apart and the President has no plan to get us out. His only plan? Stay the course.
This was followed by the same old deceptions about his secret domestic spying program. His stubborn defense of lawlessness bears a striking resemblance to his defense of using fabricated intelligence to manipulate the nation into war.
And, oh yes, tax cuts for the wealthy and a race to the bottom on trade.
This year's energy independence initiative is staggering in its insincerity. A President of and by Big Oil will break America's addiction to it? It's like a drug dealer offering to be your substance abuse counselor. It's just not going to happen.
A President who has consistently cut education spending and who reneged on his promise to fund his No Child Left Behind Program (previously touted in another fanciful address), now wants to fund Math and Science Education. Does anyone believe him?
In the most outlandish flight of fancy, the President claimed the federal government was meeting its responsibility to provide insurance to the poor and the elderly. I guess that depends on how you define poor. The forty million uninsured in this country would be shocked at this assertion. I guess it also depends on how you define elderly. Visit a pharmacy this week and find out how the President's prescription drug plan is working out for them.
I take great comfort in the fact that a majority of Americans no longer agree with the President or trust him. The charade is over. Republicans are running out of time and long ago ran out of ideas, and it is time for a change. I agree with the President that this year we will make choices that will determine the future of our country. I believe Americans will decide to put a check and balance on an out of control Republican party.
And I believe you just heard the last gasp of a lame duck.
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