Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thoughts and Observations on 2007 SOTU Address

Do I really care how many times Pelosi blinked as she sat in the glare of the lights shining down on President Bush as he gave his speech? 30 per minute? Big deal. I'm not going to psychoanalyze the relevance. It isn't relevant.

What was said? Does anyone remember? If you remember what was said, will it actually matter what the President said on anything - from his talk about border control, which I thought was squishy, to the war in Iraq and what is at stake?

If there's anything that people can or should remember from the speech, it isn't the choreography of when which groups stood or sat on their hands (there's always that nonsense) - though as a blogger and pundit noting that Democrats were uneasy with applauding on the victory in Iraq bit does show the problems that Democrats face going into the 2008 election. Everyone should have jumped off their seats to cheer for US victory in Iraq, and that some waivered on this shows that the Democrats have a long way to go to showing that they really want the US to win in Iraq or just go home regardless of what that means for the nation, let alone what it would do to Iraq and the rest of the world.

I hope people remember what is at stake if the US fails in Iraq. Indeed, failure is not an option. It cannot be an option, yet it would appear that Democrats do not feel the same way. They're pushing for diplomatic measures and a regional solution. Will the Democrats actually spell out with whom they want to negotiate with?

Al Qaeda doesn't negotiate. Hamas and Hizbullah don't negotiate. They blow stuff up. They destroy stuff. They seek the submission of all those who don't adhere to the same religious viewpoints as they do. They've got the resolve for the long haul.

Syria and Iran would be the likely candidates for negotiations, but are they really interested in negotiations? From their word and deed, the answer is no. They both support international terrorism, both seek to undermine the US efforts in Iraq, Iran seeks nuclear weapons, and both seek to undermine US allies in the region through their proxy forces like Hamas and Hizbullah. Lebanon is under fire (and on fire) because of Syrian and Iranian support for Hizbullah.

What exactly are we negotiating with and for when dealing with Syria or Iran? How we can leave Iraq under the cover of a piece of paper that condemns millions of people in the region to suffer under the yoke of tyranny and oppression?

I was not surprised that Bush included a throwaway line about Israel and the Palestinian issue, as it appears that every President since 1948 has had to include a line about that. The real news would have been if the President said nothing at all or that the US will support Israel unconditionally and will not provide any further aid to Palestinians unless the Palestinians not only renounce terrorism but lay down their arms and give up trying to destroy Israel. That, of course, will not happen, but someone in the White House Press Office/Speechwriters thought that they had to mention the situation in Israel anyways.

Good to see a mention of Africa, the failed states, and dealing with AIDS and malaria and how to improve the situation there. Drop the sentence on Israel and use that time to expand on the situation in Africa. Talk about Somalia and what that means to the region.

The best part of the speech had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with recognizing regular folks who have gone out of their way to do great things. You could see Bush's demeanor change and his face brighten as he talked about them.

As for Webb's rebuttal, what can one say? If you wonder why one of the newest members to Congress gave such an important speech, consider why Hillary or Obama or Dodd or Biden (or any of the other declared or undeclared potential candidates) didn't deliver it instead. All have a stake in the 2008 election campaign, and none would want one of their rivals to get such high billing and national exposure. That simply would be unacceptable. So, they found someone who all sides would find acceptable. In the end, that meant Webb.

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