02-19-2017  6:04 pm      •     

The stage was set for the State of the Union speech by a president who had one of the lowest ratings in modern history. You have to back up to Richard Nixon's 1974 speech during the Watergate scandal to find an equivalent. As a result, George W. Bush's speech was just as unconvincing as Nixon's.
Bush waited until the last moment of his speech to assert that "the state of the union is strong," a statement meant to come after the "balcony politics" of referring to various people in the balcony that have done heroic things.
It would have been better had he exhibited the honesty of Lyndon Banes Johnson, who said in his 1968 State of the Union speech that "the state of the union is challenged both at home and abroad."
The question of whether this speech moved the American people will not be known for some time. However, neither the mainstream media, nor initial polls have indicated that Bush had a "bump" from his most recent address.
Let's review some of the highlights to put Bush's speech into perspective.
The strategy behind the first half of his speech seemed to contest Democrats and win over the public by offering them popular issues. But he failed miserably with his convoluted health insurance plan. It would make employer-paid plans count as earned income for tax purposes, while allowing a $7,000 tax deduction for individuals and $15,000 for families. For Congress, this is dead on arrival. Congress has continuously rejected measures that endanger employer-subsidized health insurance.
Bush then promised — as he has done in the past — to increase funding for No Child Left Behind. These numbers — set in the context of the Iraq war money pit — just don't add up.
The president plowed on, attempting to win some points by addressing global warming. This has been viewed as a modest measure in light of the urgency felt in a country that experienced the warmest year on record since 1938 and is responsible for a substantial share of the carbon emissions that create greenhouse gasses.
All of this set the stage for Bush's attempt to defend his approach for the war in Iraq. None of his symbolic nods to bipartisanship and understanding of the people's message in the recent elections kept him from a spasmodic dance of defending the indefensible war and of promoting a buildup of 21,000 more troops over the objections of his most knowledgeable advisers — that 9/11 was linked to Iraq, and asserted that if America doesn't fight in Iraq, we will have to fight terrorism in America. The fact that America has and will have to deal with terrorism is not a function of the situation in Iraq, it is a result of the historical consequences of one-sided, oil-centric foreign policy in the Middle East that has made us complicit in the evils of the elite leadership in that region.
Any mention of Katrina and the extension of benefits beyond those recently mentioned by FEMA was missing from his speech; no mention of the deteriorating economic status of American workers as Wall Street does well; no mention of signing Democrat-passed bills; no pledge not to cut Pell Grants; no mention of providing more money for childcare to stressed mothers in the welfare program; no mention of anything that would have added real substance to a domestic program. Democrats haven't done this either, but then, they were not in the dock.
This was a well delivered, but forgettable speech, a feeble justification for failure, presented by a president trapped in the vortex of his own untruths.

Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Institute and Professor of Government and Politics.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Carpentry Professionals


Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow