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January 27, 2004

The State of Bush’s Union Skips Reality

David 'Kip' Koontz

To some, watching the annual State of the Union address was like coming upon a wreck on the side of the road. You don’t want to look. You know it is in some way wrong, but you are mystified by the abject horror of it and you, for whatever reason, cannot avert your eyes.

In this instance the horror stems, at first, from President Bush’s insistence that there were absolute, legitimate reasons for his military actions in Iraq, which were repeatedly referred to as a war, even though Congress never declared war, and his absolute resolve in not wanting to accommodate those nations that have been very loyal allies to the U.S. through the years.

Even though there have been no verified existence of the nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, now re-dubbed weapons of mass murder, Dubya seems to justify his actions by saying that the “Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment…” Activities, equipment, okay, but show us the weapons.

It didn’t go un-noticed that frequently when the cameras panned to those men and women in uniform who were selected to sit in the gallery as representatives of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, those who are in service, gave only polite applause to Mr. Bush’s repeated references to the great benefit of this undertaking and what it will accomplish.

He met the same fate when he attempted to assure us that his administration will deliver everything they need to safely and successfully complete their mission.

What do they know that we don’t?

It seemed as if an inordinate amount of time was taken in an attempt to assuage a nation that, according to poll numbers, finds Mr. Bush at a rather low point and beatable if elections were held today, the continued deaths in Iraq are - in some ways - worth it.

Not surprisingly, he had to continue to imply that anyone who is in anyway opposed to his motivations for the war are un-patriotic in hopes of casting aspersion on many Americans for the hope of political gain.

Eventually, Mr. Bush moved off of the subject of Iraq and on to the economy.

Mr. Bush believes the economy is in fine shape, even telling us that exports are up.

Maybe he believes the countless jobs that are being lost as companies out-source them to foreign countries are exports and not lost jobs for Americans.

Curious how, and it depends on whose numbers you use, the half-trillion-to-one-trillion dollar debt he created was only discussed in passing as he promises a budget full of program reductions (i.e. social programs) that will help “cut the deficit in half over the next five years.”

It is funny that upon creating such a huge deficit, he tells us that he and Congress must “act as good stewards of taxpayer dollars.” He should have been doing that the last three years.

One of the highlights of the speech came when Mr. Bush encouraged Congress to pass legislation that would “modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

It was nice of Mr. Bush to inject this moment of levity into the evening.

Seriously, does Mr. Bush really consider drilling for oil and destroying the natural habitat and the land of Alaska an act of conservation? Conserving the wealth maybe, conserving the environment, no.

Some might say that Mr. Bush is reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy by simply colonizing foreign countries. After all, some might say that as the U.S. is solely responsible for the reserves of oil in Iraq, he may claim it to be “domestic” oil and not “foreign.”

The unfunded No Child Left Behind Act is extolled by Mr. Bush as helping to equalize the playing field toward a better education for all children.

Others, however, have criticized the plan, saying that the only reason it can be called “No Child Left Behind,” is because it actually leaves all children behind — hence worsening the education system for all children.

It is befuddling in light of the performance of the stock market over the last three years, that Mr. Bush still tells us that the best way to help our seniors is to force them into participating in privatization of Social Security and their retirement.

Maybe he is going to propose that all the money invested be directed into a Halliburton Mutual Fund.

He then moved in to the health care portion of his speech which can be summed up by saying, and this is taking the liberty to paraphrase, “My buddies in the big insurance companies will continue to get rich while tens of millions of Americans can’t afford insurance. And no, we really aren’t going to do anything about the cost of prescription drugs, my buddies at the pharmaceutical companies need their share of the pie, too.”

“Protecting our young” was the theme of the concluding portion of Mr. Bush’s speech.

To do so, he wants to help keep kids off drugs. Good.

But he spent his time assailing professional athletes who take steroids (one analysis claims he spent twice as much time talking about athletes and steroids than he did Social Security reform), demanding they stop using them right away.

Mr. Bush had an opportunity to show a human side on this issue by talking about how his own family has had to deal with the issue of drugs. He did not and that is a shame. But it goes to show you that there are some credibility issues when it comes to their trumpeting the theme of taking personal responsibility.

To help the less fortunate, something he clearly does not see as a responsibility of government (he is kind of like the reverse Robin Hood, he steals from the poor to give to the rich by calling them tax cuts) by promoting more faith-based initiatives.

Those in the faith community, who want to help the less fortunate, should already be doing so, if they feel it is their calling.

It just seems to cross some lines by taking taxpayer money and giving it to a religious-based institution so that they can help others after those being helped get a big dollop of the message of the beliefs of those who are doling out the help.

One has to wonder if only those faith-based groups with whom Mr. Bush agrees will get money, or will cash be given to such groups with other beliefs like Buddhist or Islamic traditions?

To protect our children he proposes abstinence. Fine, be abstinent, but to say “that’s that,” is beyond naïve. People have always had sex and they will continue to have sex, no matter how much Mr. Bush and Co. wish they wouldn’t.

Here’s an idea that might cut down on people having sex. Declare that if you have sex and get pregnant your child has to be a Bush & Co. Republican. That should send enough fear into some people’s hearts to get them to stop - at least for a while.

Of course, Grand Master Bush concluded with his big bang and that is a cloaked promise to support a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman only.

In this day and age, with all the problems that exist with Iraq, Afghanistan, terror, North Korea, the economy, healthcare, poverty, and the list goes on, that this is the centerpiece of his proposal to protect the young?

Who does it really protect at all and what does it really accomplish, except to illustrate to the world that he is a backward thinking, mean-spirited, narrow-minded man whose vision of democracy extends only to those from whom he can, in some way, benefit.

Mr. Bush’s view of the state of the Union seems out of place with the reality of the complexities of the nation, the people, and the world.

Hopefully, beyond hope, this will be his last.

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