Everybody’s talking SOTU today.
I admit I had not been able to watch the State of the Union speech for the last couple of years. I just could not stomach watching President Bush preen in front of the home crowd about all his perceived GOP “successes.”
That was a hard one for a political junkie like me — remember, I’m the girl who stayed indoors to watch the Watergate hearings rather than be outside in the ’70s summer sun!
But with the Congress back in the hands of the Dems, I thought I should watch to hear the tone Bush would take — whether there would be a difference in approach.
And while most people agree that his speech last night was his attempt toward purported compromise, my concern at this point isn’t the state of the union.
I’m worried about the state of the presidency.
First, I’m a little troubled when the 60-year-old leader of the free world stands up in front of the nation and sounds more like my first-grader than a man of responsibility — he wouldn’t admit his mistakes, doesn’t know when to say he’s sorry and asks for continued patience for a lost cause, notwithstanding a track record that suggests he doesn’t deserve it.
Second, while he’s trying to talk a good game of bipartisanship (pretty much a new tune for him), nothing has really changed in terms of how the White House deals with those it considers the not-so-loyal opposition.
The baby-steps President Bush took last night toward playing nice with the Democrats are really overshadowed by the beginning of the Scooter Libby trial.
The opening statements at Libby’s trial yesterday showed the true colors of the Bush presidency better than an hour or so of grand promises in the State of the Union speech, which was, at least in part, a sleight of hand to get Americans to focus on the dreams of more affordable health care and reducing the risk of global warming, rather than the additional troops and aircraft carriers headed right now to Iraq and the Middle East.
The pattern of Bush’s presidency reminds me of Richard Nixon’s — surrounding himself by a few, close enablers who convince him that he is right all the time, regardless of what others have to say, ignoring the possibility that others may be right when he is wrong.
The comparison of presidencies is even more on mind in light of the passing of E. Howard Hunt – the man who carried out the Watergate break-in that started Nixon’s descent to resignation. That, in combination with Nixon’s spectre that has been hovering over Bush with his plummeting approval ratings, makes me wonder how much the office of the President has been compromised by Bush’s actions — and inactions — over the last six years.
Recovering the respect for the Presidency, even more of which could be squandered in the next two years, that has been lost by George W., is going to be a tall order for the next White House occupant, Democrat or Republican.