There are two schools of thought to every argument. President George W Bush claims that his critics only focus upon the negative...meanwhile, his critics accuse him of only telling voters his version of the positive. All of it is rhetoric...so, to keep abreast of White House issues, voters must know both sides.
The following speech assessment sets the goal of pointing out key areas of President Bush's speech and the rebuttal speech from the Democratic Party following President Bush's State of the Union.
"God" was mentioned in both speeches. It is one of those rhetorical terms used by politicians to define one's origin...we cannot touch, see, hear, or taste a god. One must simply believe that a god exists. God is similar to the terms fear, faith, trust, optimism, and hope -- all good. Yet the 'god' man uses to wage democratic expansion or fighting evildoers would undoubtedly live far away...billions of light years...according to astronomers.
President George W Bush's State of the Union speech however was not meant to see past 12 months of time. As has been the case --of past state addresses-- none of his speeches are linked...each State of the Union lays new ground without addressing successes from past goals. The only thread from President Bush's State of the Union speech that found its way into a rebuttal speech by Democrat Party appointee Tim Kaine, governor of Virginia, came in the men's closing statements: May God bless [the United States of ] America.
While President Bush's State of the Union speech itself (5,433 words) did not provide any new insight, Kaine's rebuttal confirmed no new ground for Democrats as they struggle to reform their party. Kaine did however spend an appreciable amount of time on education reform.
There is a logical "public relations" reason for not addressing specifics in a State of Union address: No accountability required throughout the remaining year.
President Bush addressed the nation for his sixth State of the Union. The president calls 2006 "this decisive year," in which voters will once again make choices that "determine both the future and the character of our country." The nation's character therefore, in his mind, is not determined.
Year 2006 is a mid-term election year: The Republicans must keep control of Washington D.C. in order to keep President Bush's final two years in office somewhat productive. Furthermore, Republicans cannot afford to lose their majority to Democrats who in turn may visit impeachment hearings due to the invasion of Iraq. Democrat Party chair, Howard Dean, has his fingers crossed to win a majority of seats in November for this purpose. It is key for Republicans to maintain control, which is why President Bush vows to actively campaign for his party in 2006. The end result means the president will be spending less time devoted to White House issues.
"We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom -- or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life," President Bush said. In following his long-term motto "you are with us or against us," his message is clear -- chose Republican control or lose all hope. In contrast to President Bush's two choices, Kaine professed ongoing and active collaboration between Republicans and Democrats in Virginia to overcome federal budget cuts imposed by the White House, which will be addressed further along in this essay.
"In a complex and challenging time," President Bush argues that any thought of isolationism is dangerous. "The only way to control our destiny is by our leadership -- so the United States of America will continue to lead," he said, effectively answering any doubt that voters would have a say in this democracy.
"Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal -- we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it."
He means the United States of America (not simply 'america') and the dependency is real, nothing in foreign policy has been done to minimize security threats.
Think how difficult it would be to pull-off a well-planned terrorist attack in the United States without being actively hunted by the states. Two years come to mind, 1993 and 2001, which means that should another attack not occur before year 2009, the threat might be indeed minimized.
It is simply too early to assess.
The president confirms his commitment to conducting business his way using rhetoric meant to instill fear in the audience that something will happen if he is not given full authority. There was only one other president who used fear to capture support from the public: John F Kennedy in reference to Russia and Cuba.
"Dictatorships shelter terrorists," President Bush said, but dictators also protect their one-way ideologies.
"So we will act boldly in freedom's cause," President Bush said. The president calls democracy "lonely" in the pre-WWII era, and odd choice of words, but a fitting touch to argue that his idea of democracy is the only way to win.
The president never says the phrase "Osama bin Laden," but he did say "bin Laden," which is a strange way to address someone on a first reference. President Bush has always addressed "Saddam Hussein" with his full name (without using the word president,) and has not used a first reference of only Hussein. It is almost as if he has a personal wager within his circle of friends to not say 'Osama.'
"No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam -- the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death," President Bush said.
Radical Islam...noble faith? Islam is suddenly the target religion to fight? What about radical Christians?
The president said that Islam seeks "to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world."
The Middle East, Islam, Christianity, the United States, cannot each be accurately defined in one paragraph. What the president says is that his administration sees the Middle East falling under control of the "few" Islamic extremists. And yet, he also says democracy is spreading in the region for a price tag of $2 trillion.
President Bush accuses terrorists of using fear as a weapon. "Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear."
"In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores," said President Bush.
His assessment of retreating means terrorists would move to "our own shores," is not possible under any circumstance. But the message instills fear in the audience. "We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders -- and for the others, their day will come." When? See the reference about accountability...
So, who is left? (Besides Osama bin Laden.) President Bush prides himself on spreading liberty and freedom in Afghanistan and in Iraq...if we are to believe the spread of democracy is so successful, what would be the cause of anyone taking-up arms too join a terrorist cause? We, of course, do not know the full story...the White House under President Bush has seen to tighten security away from the press.
"...By leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself -- we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage," President Bush said. No slip of the tongue, the statement indicates forces not from this planet are attacking the world itself.
"We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan -- where a fine president and national assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy," said President Bush.
Afghanistan is still under United States' occupation. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, the former UNOCAL board member, has better control of Kabul city and the western flatlands of the nation where the Caspian Oil Pipeline resides; but southern and eastern Afghanistan remain in Taliban control. Even on this day, 3 February 2006, Taliban forces killed 13 military personnel in an attack.
"And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory," President Bush said. But the president never states his victory plan, which his critics have been saying for two years. President Bush's response is that asking for a plan is disloyal to military support. He often discusses insurgents too, but remember that in France and in the United Kingdom during WWII - the French and British resistance to Germany were considered insurgents as well... All depends upon how well one spins rhetoric.
"First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized," President Bush said. In 2005 the president said we were going to eliminate the "insurgency," now we will only work to marginalize.
Despite the White House-appointee inspector general's audit report detailing tens of millions in dollars of stolen cash from Iraq, the president said, "Second, we are continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom."
"Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal," President Bush said...the enemy referring to those in Iraq who want the United States to leave. Invaders are often thought of as "enemies," but in the case of the United States' role as invader it is the liberator.
"I am confident in our plan for victory, I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people, I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning," President Bush said. He offers no evidence to prove his statements correct, which fuels critical response.
"Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy," the president said. No, hindsight plus brain intelligence and collaboration removes all second-guessing from the equation. Had President Bush ever been part of a team, rather than the one-way cowboy approach, the fate of the United States and Iraq and Afghanistan would be much different in 2006.
President Bush turns away from his earlier comments by adding: "A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies, to death and prison, put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country and show that a pledge from America means little."
Earlier he talked of how democracy had spread across Iraq and how grateful the Iraqi people were to vote in a new government. So, is he saying that the United States' effort to install new government in Iraq remains so weak that the slightest movement away from military support suddenly plunges the country into the hands of Osama bin Laden?
"Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change," President Bush said. Forceful change he means.
"Elections are vital -- but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote."
The rule of law -- that did not apply to President Bush in year 2000 when he did not win a majority of the vote.
Protection of minorities -- that does not apply in the United States to those seeking freedom and liberty of marriage definition.
"The Palestinian people have voted in elections -- now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace," President Bush said..., so democracy only counts when the right group is democratically voted into power.
Then the president adds, "Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity."
As President Bush spoke directly to the people of Iraq, during his State of the Union address in 2003, so too he spoke to the people of Iran in 2006. When the president is addressing his nation, it is a curious move to address people of another nation -- especially when he indirectly supports overthrowing Iran's government.
President Bush said that terrorists have not lost their "desire or capability to attack us," but yet, he said to trust him to protect the homeland.
"So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America," again he means the United States and not 'america,' and he will continue to authorize from the White House any methods he sees fit to advance one-way rule.
"This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks," the president said, but he did not provide examples.
On the economy, President Bush said, "Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes."
For the record, a decade before President Bush took office he personally ran three companies into the ground. His business acumen speaks for itself.
People of the United States know that increasing taxes and world competitiveness are not related. The government could create incentives to businesses from abroad to open shop in the states...and the government could step-in to prevent corporations from shipping jobs to India. But the federal government at present is not bringing businesses into the United States, so when the president vows to "set out a better path," as he puts it, he uses rhetoric to avoid addressing the real issue: 'Transition time' and skills development before jobs move abroad in order to create a new economic workforce. Training 10-year children on math tests may be great news...but as Kaine says, those children do not pay mortgages. Professional men and women --President Bush's age-- have lost out to jobs moving overseas. They are, by all federal statistical measures, starting their careers over by slinging hash at Wal-Mart's deli counter.
"In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families -- and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years," President Bush said.
What he didn't say was that due to federal tax breaks, states and local authorities have increased their taxes to cover $1.03 trillion combined local deficits, more than wiping-out a meager $880 billion savings he claims. Your taxes --you average income earners-- have increased since 2001. Your federal withholding may have gone down, but add up your state withholding, your city withholding, your county and state sales and property taxes and duties; plus new fees covering those costs of services you already covered with prior tax dollars. The states are in trouble, as Kaine points out. The federal government doesn't care, buy you will pay the difference one way or another.
"If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome," but it is too late, the tax increases are already in place, and Kaine does address the issue in his rebuttal.
"The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances," President Bush said.
What was $10 billion spent on? President Bush does not say. We know $14 billion in federal assistance will go to oil companies during 2006 to experiment with finding new oil supplies closer to home.
In response to President Bush's State of the Union address, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine provided his Democratic Party response. He didn't say much in his "There is a better way" speech. The slogan is as poorly created as (Sen. D-MA) John Kerry's "Help is on the way" during the 2004 presidential campaign. Kaine discussed how Republicans and Democrats in Virginia are working together to battle federal cuts without impacting incomes too much.
While all politicians use double-speak, Kaine did make one profound statement: "Our federal government should serve the American people." Kaine did mean 'people of the United States' and not all americans.
Kaine accused President Bush's administration of making poor choices and for supporting a corrupt management. "Families in the Gulf Coast see that as they wait to rebuild their lives. Americans who lose their jobs see that as they look to rebuild their careers. And our soldiers in Iraq see that as they try to rebuild a nation."
But Kaine's theme of 'working together' was backed-up with examples, to contrast President Bush's "one-way democracy."
"Tonight, we heard the president again call to make his tax policies permanent, despite his administration's failure to manage our staggering national debt. Over the past five years, we've gone from huge surpluses to massive deficits," Kaine said.
And to the federal cuts -- giving rise to massive increases in local tax increases, Kaine said about reforming his budget, "States all across this country are doing the same thing, as the federal government falls further and further into debt."
"Think about what's occurring in education," Kaine said. "The administration's No Child Left Behind Act is wreaking havoc on local school districts across the nation. Despite the insistence of Democrats in Congress that this program should be funded as promised, the administration has opposed that funding and is refusing to let states try innovative alternatives."
Kaine accuses the White House of cutting Medicaid funds as more of those in need can no longer afford to keep up with rising costs of medication. "They find getting their medicine to be more complex, more expensive, and less reliable," Kaine said.
He added that President Bush fought the state of Illinois to prevent the state from restricting drug cost increases, contrary to what President Bush has said about lowering health care costs.
"In Virginia, we have worked to provide health insurance coverage for nearly 140,000 children who weren't covered four years ago. And Republicans and Democrats alike have banded together to fight the administration's efforts to slash Medicaid and push more costs on to the states."
Kaine asked whether or not President Bush's policies are "the best way to win this war?"
"We now know that the American people were given inaccurate information about the reasons for invading Iraq. We now know that our troops in Iraq were not given the best body armor or the best intelligence. We now know that the administration wants to cut tens of thousands of troops from the Army Reserves and National Guard at the very time America is facing new and dangerous threats. And we now know the administration wants to further reduce military and veterans' benefits," Kaine said.
Kaine said that in Virginia, the state has fought the White House on veteran benefit cuts.
At issue with many states at the moment, especially in California, Arizona, and in New Mexico is the topic of illegal immigration. Kaine said, "The failure of the federal government to implement and enforce a rational immigration policy has resulted in a confusing patchwork of state and local efforts. We should welcome those who seek to lawfully join and contribute to our American family. At the same time, we must ensure that our homeland defense efforts begin with consistent federal action to protect our borders."
"If we want to replace the division that grips our nation's capital, we need a change. Democrats are leading that reform effort, working to restore honesty and openness to our government, working to replace a culture of partisanship and cronyism with an ethic of service and results," Kaine said. "Our greatest need is for America to heal its partisan wounds and become one people," he said before closing.
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