Address coated with Teflon whitewash

Last night’s State of the Union address largely pandered, which is not to say it differed from most presidents’ addresses. Although President George W. Bush presented a few interesting policy ideas, his main purpose seemed to solidify his conservative base. We needed more substance.

While Bush had to support continued efforts in Iraq, his painting the Middle East as nearly devoid of freedom is counterproductive to peace as well as demeaning. Furthermore, it smacked of hypocrisy given the president’s call to continue the Patriot Act’s provisions, which many consider the worst assault on Americans’ civil liberties in memorable history.

Bush gave national air time to some questionable issues. While steroid use in sports is a problem, it is not the president’s

responsibility to deal with it. The worst pandering was the section on sex and marriage. Whatever one feels about abstinence programs, again, is it the leader of the free world’s task to promote them? Also, Bush’s support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is a fruitless insult to the homosexual community, given legislative and political realities.

There were, however, positives in the speech. Bush’s ideas on health care, increased funding for vocational education and job support for ex-prisoners deserve discussion. The only question is how and when we pay for these programs, given Bush’s desire for perpetual tax cuts.

Bush’s speech ended where it began: Iraq and terrorism. While his anecdote of a little girl’s letter was touching, considering the occasion’s current and historical importance, it left us in an abyss of hyperbole.