Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our Allegedly “Far-Right-Wing” President is Spending Money Like a Drunken Sailor

By Nicholas Stix
January 31, 2002
Toogood Reports/A Different Drummer

[When my editor, A.J. Toogood, posted the following column at Free Republic, some broken glass Republicans were so incensed at my criticisms of George W. Bush that they denounced it as a “vanity post,” and demanded it be pulled.]

"... as we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our union has never been stronger."

What a pleasant surprise! Based on previous State of the Union addresses, George Bush's limitations as a speaker, and George Will's criticisms last Sunday on This Week of the whole State of the Union business, I was tempted to skip the speech, and work on my book, fearing that I would otherwise be bored to tears. But there was nothing boring Tuesday night.

The address had a great opening: "Yet the State of our union has never been stronger." It had powerful imagery: "At a memorial in New York, a little boy left his football with a note for his lost father: 'Dear Daddy, please take this to Heaven. I don't want to play football until I can play with you again someday.'" It practiced necessary diplomacy vis-a-vis our enemy, Islam, "If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic street greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the skeptics look to Islam's own rich history, with its centuries of learning and tolerance and progress." And it had a nice parallel at the end: "We have known freedom's price. We have shown freedom's power...."

I think Brit Hume on Fox 5 in New York was dead-on, about the role of Bush's faith, in saying that "G-d is near," while at the same time using restraint. Hume was also on the money, regarding the President's turn to nation-building. Bill Kristol was having multiple orgasms afterwards, thinking to himself, 'We did it, we did it, we got the Pres. on board for our universal-interventionist foreign policy!'

Truth be told, though the world curses us, the world will not tolerate an isolationist America. Not the so-called Western world, which attacks us for leading, yet expects us to fight its battles. Not the Islamic world, which takes billions in aid from us, even as it denounces us as "Big Satan." Not even the remnants of the communist world, where dictators facing famine (as in North Korea) still want America to feed their starving people. I wonder how many America First isolationists, e.g., Bill Kauffman, will be picketing the defense plants that will be putting unemployed, Middle American, former factory workers back to work?

George Bush may not be Abe Lincoln -- who is? -- and yet, he has his own style of playing mystic chords of memory. His is a call for a return to innocence, to virtue ("Ask not what your country can do for you ..."), to the knowledge that we are the good guys.

Several weeks ago, a pundit suggested that there was a feeling of altruism, of service, of love of country abroad in the land, such that hundreds of thousands of people would rise to serve their country in a heartbeat, if George Bush would merely say the word. I was despairing that Bush was missing this great opportunity. With the President's unveiling of USA Freedom Corps, I despair no more.

And then there are the Arabs. When Mr. Bush said, "Most of the 19 men who hijacked planes on September the 11th were trained in Afghanistan's camps," I thought he should have said, "Most of the 19 men who hijacked planes on September the 11th were Saudi nationals." When he observed that, "Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder," he expanded to cover the PLO. And when Bush closed the section on terrorism with, "But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will," again, I thought I heard him accusing the Saudis. Perhaps that was merely my hope, but after four months of the Saudis' hard work, in proving that they are our enemies, I may not be imagining things.

If there was anything wrong with the speech, it was in George Bush offering something for everyone. "Good jobs" for welfare clients; health ("a patients' bill of rights"); health (for uninsured workers) , health (for veterans), health (prescription drugs for the elderly); "... broader home ownership, especially among minorities..."; "historic education reform so that no child is left behind"; "improved Head Start and early childhood development programs"; "upgrade[d] teacher colleges and teacher training"; even a cleaner environment.

Which brings me to the unpleasant surprise: This State of the Union Address could easily have been given by a Democrat. It's a budget-buster of a statement. It's a document promising us more of Leviathan, not less. And yet, Mr. "Looking for Friends in All the Wrong Places" still failed to soften his enemies' hearts. A socialist commentator accompanying Brit Hume of Fox 5 in New York, complained, "There was nothing for minorities." Had a socialist president called for "good jobs" for [black] welfare clients, "broader [black] home ownership," even MORE aid to that anti-intellectual, minority money pit, Head Start, people "rebuild[ing black] communities," "mentors to love [black] children ... whose parents are in prison," "more talented teachers in troubled [black] schools," and quoted black socialist Marian Wright Edelman on leaving no child behind, the same commentator would surely have applauded his "commitment to social justice."

Funny thing about these "radical right" Republicans. New Yorkers elected one, George Pataki, governor in 1994, and he instituted social welfare programs (Health Plus), and gutted welfare reform, while going on the sort of spending orgy that his socialist predecessor, Mario Cuomo, had refused to contemplate. Our allegedly far-right President, meanwhile, is spending like a drunken sailor, while cutting taxes.

That's politics, for you. Full of surprises, pleasant and otherwise.

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