I listened to President’s 2004 State of the Union, and read the speech on-line. Deconstructed, it reveals a great deal about the state of our union.
The word "war" was used 12 times. Security was used six times. Twice the war, half the security. Bush’s state of the union appears to be in sync with Howard Dean’s platform. Is Karl Rove making a play for the anti-war vote?
Iraq or Iraqis were mentioned 24 times, Afghanistan or Afghans six times, a four-to-one ratio of presidential concern paralleling the proportion of dead American soldiers there. Over 500 dead American soldiers in Iraq and 100 dead Americans in Afghanistan to date. Perhaps this year Bush will attend his very first funeral for a young soldier.
Save or saving occurred eight times, protect or protecting seven times, and keep or keeping five times. Preserve twice. Mr. President, are we canning vegetables or just panicky over the people’s choice in November?
The economy was mentioned 15 times, usually associated with strength, growth or change. I guess I’d be happier if he used the word in its primary meaning, "Careful, thrifty management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor; an example or result of such management." No such luck.
Prosperity occurred only once, but there were three examples of "progress." One for fighting terrorism, one for the children, and one for health care.
In terrorism, we are taking the battle to the evil enemy’s villages and encampments. In education, we are taking the battle to communities, counties and states. The message from Washington is the same to both groups: "Our way, or the highway!" For the Bush administration, fighting terrorism abroad and fighting independent thinking and decentralization at home are related and complementary battles. Both seek to eliminate any challenge to the perfected central plan out of Washington.
In the throes of a severe logic seizure, Bush offered a strange remedy for health care. Several decades of focused effort by lobbyists and politicians have devised and delivered a scheme — of taxation, subsidized medicine, insurance mandates and legal systems — that discourages the consumer from saving for health care, as it discourages the medical community from delivering it. Eye care and plastic surgery — where publicly funded subsidies and governmental interference don’t exist to drive costs through the roof, eliminate innovation, and reduce customer choice — are models that might have been discussed. But instead Bush offers us a tax-free health care savings account.
There were seven cuts, two things reduced and two that will be reduced, one reduction, one limit, but sadly, no restraint.
Tax or taxes occurred 21 times. Now we are talking the State’s language.
Job or jobs occurred 13 times — slightly more than war. It is very likely one of the prime "Jobs for the 21st Century" in America will be that of draftee. Bush denied that we have ambitions for empire. He may not, but a close friend of his begs to differ. I have it on good sources that the Vice President’s Christmas cards mailed just last month contained this Biblical quotation, "And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" Hmmmm.
The word "patriot" occurred three times. Oops! None of these referred the Patrick Henry’s among us. Bush was talking about the monstrously monikered P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. By the way, it was Patrick Henry who said, "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." Put that in your P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act!
Marriage was mentioned nine times — exactly as often as health care. The State’s matching interest in health care and marriage can only mean that the manly Republicans have completed their metamorphosis into nanny-state Mommas from hell. Perhaps Bush will continue the theme of his health savings accounts, and offer tax-free marriage accounts for those who can’t afford a proper wedding. Is a special federal fund to offset the expense of wedding planners in our future? Dare I suggest a nice federal price cap on the cost of nuptials?
While the state’s interest in marriage was discussed at length, God was given the nod just twice. Religion was invoked only once when he said it would be "…condescending to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government."
Significantly, this was the only place in the speech where liberty and self-government came up, and Bush wasn’t even talking about our country, but our newly acquired colony in Iraq. Limited appreciation for God, religion, liberty and self-government concerned Edmund Burke, the founding fathers, and patriots throughout our American evolution. Clearly we need to be concerned about it today.
In 2004, we all need to read more Burke, more Patrick Henry, more Claes Ryn and Lew Rockwell. But even if we don’t, there is a reason for optimism. There is a new technology that will allow all of us to more easily analyze future State of the Union addresses, and most everything else that comes from Washington. Lie detector glasses.