Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
    Volume 6 Issue 4 | February 2, 2007 |

   Cover Story
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review
   New Flicks

   SWM Home

The Real State of the Union

Nader Rahman

Answer honestly, ok? Do you know a Bush joke? If you can truthfully say that you don't, then it must be said that you are missing out on the funniest man ever to control the free world. There are parts of the world where the mere mention of name is followed by belly aching laughter, to some comedians his name itself is a punch line. In the George W. Bush's world of comedy his speeches merely set up the jokes while his actions prove them. This year's state of the union speech was full of hope, one feels Bush was building up for the punch line.

Some will argue that they did not have to wait and that the punch line came over and over again. The first possible instance was when he said that America must balance their budget. Pelosi was up like a shot! This may have been too risky a line for Bush, since the Democrats were obviously cheering in sarcastic glee, given the spending record of the Republican Congress and Bush's failure to ever veto a single spending plan! On the other hand, members of the President's base may have needed to hear that, for them to get a real sate of the union. With that one sentence, comedic pens were sharpened and satirical columnists rubbed their hands in pleasure. Six years after being in office and spending the most money ever by an American president, he waxes about balancing budgets. One must remember that he inherited a few trillion dollar surplus, which he turned into a deficit within one presidential term. Who of all people was he to say that America needs to balance the budget? With the international war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq draining more money every day, mere words were not the order of the day. Throughout this part of his speech the entire house cheered him, if only sarcasm could be measured, this would have been off the Richter scale.

Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi listen on as George W. Bush delivers his 2007 State of the Union speech.

There was more to come from our favourite cowboy “A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care” he said. Everyone in the house stood to applaud, the Democrats were instantly on their feet, cheering lustily and somewhat sarcastically. The Republicans seemed a little uneasy. His speech was smooth at times and rather more circumspect int other places. Bush next tackled the subject of immigration by saying, “Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate, so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law.” Everybody cheered the goal, even as they knew that fundamentally different ideas of what “reform” should mean are nowhere near being resolved. This was Mr. President playing to the largely uninformed viewers at home, after all more people watched him than American Idol (as if he already wasn't the real American Idol). Basically he said to them, “I have a stance, which contrary to public opinion I will not go at alone.” The part he left out for the cameras was the fact that his stance and bipartisan reform were filler words; they had no real meaning in the Senate because no one could agree on how to define them.

Bush was true to form on one subject. The White House had promised nothing on global warming, and he delivered nothing. He briefly mentioned "global climate change" but showed no sense of urgency on the issue, he was just doing what he did best, nothing. These were signs that he paid no attention to the Senate, his friends in the business community and the world at large that he support a national programme of mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases. But then again he needs to listen to no one, as his entrance into war with Iraq clearly showed. But this was highly foolish for a number of reasons because at one point, he did suggest that his proposals for alternative fuels and for modest but steady improvements in the efficiency of cars and light trucks could help reduce greenhouse gases. But what he refused to mention was that the gains would be marginal, passenger vehicles account for only one-fifth of these gases. How was he planning to deal with the other four-fifths? This was one of the major drawbacks of his speech; it clearly showed that while he has a vision, at the best of times it is severely impaired. This lack of foresight diluted the effect of his energy independence schemes, which for the most part seemed logical and progressive.

On the topic of energy independence he called for replacing 35 billion gallons of gasoline with alternative or renewable fuels by 2017. But he offered no specifics on where these 35 billion gallons in alternative fuels are going to come from. Which raises the next question about the Bush plan: Where's the money coming from? It seems unrealistic to depend on the private sector alone. Washington must help. Over and above all of this, he began his speech by talking about balancing the budget. So basically he has planned for alternate fuels, but he does not know where they will come from, or even how to fund their research. This definitely was a man with a plan.

Anti-war protesters hold a candlelight vigil outside Congress.

Last but not least came the Iraq situation. He proposed sending in roughly 20,000 additional troops to “secure Baghdad”. He went wrong on this subject over and over again, while he asked the public to be patient with the “new approach forward” he still refused to set dates. Most of America views Iraq as an open casket, into which they send their sons and daughter to death, all for oil, which one must mention is not renewable nor a source of alternate fuel. He was asking the country for one more chance, truth be told he has already had about six chances.

He continually talks of Iraqi independence but then pushes in more troops. Then blames Iran and the ever present al-Qaeda as destabilising elements, this man obviously did not read his own study group report on Iraq. There it suggests clearly that America try and involve Iraq's neighbours through diplomatic relations to ease the pressure on the country. Blaming Iran was very diplomatic indeed. But the fact that he forgot about the Iraq Study Group was reiterated when he said “I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties.” Mr. President up till two months ago you had that, you created it and named it the Iraq Study Group! No doubt its findings were thoroughly looked over. This is where the state of union lost all meaning and common sense. He continues a war his country never wanted, and then asks for support and along with one last chance. At the end of the day his stance on Iraq is a joke, then again so is he.

“The state of the union is strong”, seems like he saved the best joke for last.



Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007