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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
From the WaPo:
The personal accounts Mr. Bush advocated are intelligently structured in many ways. The requirement that workers, on retirement, use at least part of their money to buy annuities to keep them above the poverty level; the prohibition on workers withdrawing money before retiring; the default investment plan of a "lifestyle account" that would shift workers, as they age, into less risky investment blends -- all of these are sensible approaches. but. . . .
Remarkably, almost all the world outside the greater Middle East -- Russia, China, Africa, Latin America -- went unmentioned. Disappointingly, so did U.S. foreign aid beyond Palestine. Those topics appeared to fall victim to Mr. Bush's desire to refocus attention on domestic policy, an ambition that a still-dangerous world may complicate during the coming year.
Notice something missing? Let's see if we find it elsewhere.
From the NYTimes:
The State of the Union speech has come in recent years to be a laundry list of everything the president would do if he had the power to do everything. Bill Clinton was a particular fan of that approach, and polls have always shown that Americans like it. Last night, George W. Bush delivered a modified version, with a raft of initiatives that included some things new but a great deal that was very familiar. We were pleased to hear the call for better defense in death-penalty cases and more community health centers in poor areas, and the mention of $350 million in aid for Palestinians to promote the peace process with Israel. but . . . . But we were disheartened by the renewed call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and the failure to mention development aid to Africa or virtually any other country that is not identified as a prime source of terrorism.
Still missing something. hmmm . . . .
How about the Gallup Poll, via USA Today:
(+/- numbers reflect pre-speech poll to post-speech poll; note the survey polled 52%Rep, 25%Dem, 22%Ind)
Overall impression: 86% positive, 13% negative; 60% very positive
Overall policies right/wrong direction: +10
economy right/wrong: +6.5
healthcare right/wrong: +13.5
SOCIAL SECURITY right/wrong: +12
Iraq right/wrong: +11.5
In his speech, do you think George W. Bush did, or did not, make a convincing case that the government needs to take action in the next year or two to change the Social Security system?
Yes: 74% No: 24%
While the sample was, in truth, skewed, you have to note that the President moved the ball down the field tonight. And the two broad questions both have results that can not be explained away by the 52% Rep in the sample--the only way to get the results that he got would be to also convince EVERY independent. Not very likely.
And the political gauntlet is down. As for the Dems, the best that can be said of their response was that they tripped on the gauntlet. Reid is remarkably dull, and Pelosi has all the credibility on foreign affairs that, well, I do.
But the two majors both failed to mention the inescapable image, the one that will be on the Today Show, The CBSMorning Show, and everywhere else tomorrow. The image of the American mom hugging the Iraqi mom is an indescribably powerful image, that wordlessly justifies both Iraq and the Bush Doctrine.
The Dems may want to come up with an agenda. The fallback position of being a blockade is not going to be enough to slow down this President.