Cultural Revolutions

Domestic Distraction

President George W. Bush’s sixth State of the Union Address was his best so far, rhetorically speaking.  As befits a President in deep trouble, his body language was that of a beta male, and he smiled demurely.  His tone was calm and conciliatory, at times to the point of pleading.  To the uninitiated, Mr. Bush came across as a “regular guy.”  Observed in isolation from the issues at stake, he remains more likable, and his presentation more ostensibly credible, than anything his Democratic detractors can offer.

Nonetheless, the oration Mr. Bush gave on January 23 was flawed, for three reasons: It was mendacious in its stated priorities; it was inaccurate in its proposed solutions; and it was fundamentally deceitful on the one issue that overshadows all others—Iraq.

To focus the speech on domestic issues at a time when the country is facing the worst foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam was eccentric at best.  Yet the President chose to devote most of his time to traditionally Democratic issues: reducing gasoline consumption and expanding health-insurance coverage.  He suggested solutions to both that seem tailor-made to resonate with the public at large and to gain the approval of congressional Democrats.  Tax cuts, a balanced budget, energy conservation, and healthcare reform are all fine and dandy by themselves.  Mr. Bush’s attempt to change the subject...

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