Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Sometimes being a liberal blogger is hard work, hard work. I had to watch the State of the Union speech tonight, and I usually avoid seeing wingnuts actually moving and kissing each other and rubbing each other's heads and stuff. I had to watch all of that tonight, and it was like fireants crawling all over my body. So many wingnuts in one room. Gulp.

Then George Bush walked in and shook hands and kissed cheeks, and everybody cheered and applauded and couldn't stop, and it all reminded me of the Emperor's New Clothes. And then the speech started, and indeed, as the betting predicted, there was a reference to 9/11 in the first few paragraphs. But the rest of the speech was about freedom, freedom and more freedom. Freedom from medical insurance in the United States, freedom to have theocracies in the Middle East which will give women no rights, because "their" idea of a democracy isn't ours, freedom from anyone criticizing him who isn't willing to back him up.

And freedom to pay hardly any taxes if you earn a lot, which translates into a freedom to starve if you don't earn a lot. But it's all freedom, you know.

George gave us a lot of good emotions. In that way the speech was like one of those Hostess cakes which looks like a real cake and tastes sweet but in the long-run will lead you into killing your nearest and dearest and then you can use the Hostess cake defence. (Except it wasn't a Hostess cake but some other kind of American weird cake, the name of which escapes me.) George tried to take a leaf from Ronald Reagan's book: Americans love feeling good and being told that they are special and meant to lead the whole world. It is nice to hear how much good we have done in combating AIDS in Africa, except Bush hasn't really delivered on that, and how we are going to have a lot more advanced mathematics classes in schools (with what money?), and how we are, once again, going to find cheaper substitutes for imported oil. George has promised to do this every single year, and so far he hasn't actually done anything important. All this is mainly emotional titillation. I look forward to seeing the actual programs get started but that might take a while. Like until after 2008.

On the other hand, the radical right-wing clerics will get more money and embryos will be treasured. Already born children, not so much. Especially not if they happen to be in Iraq. Iraq was a major topic, too, but I forgot what he said on it. Nothing new, in any case.

There were inaccuracies and outright lies. The funniest assertion was possibly the one where Bush said that if he had been able to do illegal wiretapping before 9/11, it could have been prevented, because it is known that some of the Al Qaeda members were making phone calls from the U.S. to their foreign contacts! This was funny, because of course we all remember that government document entitled, roughly: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack America". If a government document didn't make George do anything, why would illegal wiretapping?

Then there was the elaborate skirting around the "corruption in high places" meme. No names were mentioned and nothing was said about the scandal being largely Republican. This is only natural, sure, but I still have to make a note of it.

Still, the most memorable of all Bush's utterances was his appeal to bipartisanism and civility in debate! You can criticize, but only if you are willing to criticize constructively, which means that you must agree with where Bush is trying to take this country. Like right into an abyss. Democrats are welcome to tell the administration how to get to the abyss quicker and with more force but not tell the administration that the abyss isn't a good idea in the first place.

I should say something nice about the whole SOTU experience. I liked the dog in the audience a lot. He or she looked very wise.
A transcript of the speech is available here.