State of the Presidency

Wed, January 24, 2007


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.

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8 Responses to “State of the Presidency”

  1. David Says:

    interesting analysis.

    I saw a few things.

    First, I saw a gracious president recognizing the historic significance of the woman sitting over his left shoulder.

    Second, I saw a clear signal that the WH was positioning for a deal on healthcare, energy, and immigration.

    Third, I saw a chastened president who waited half an hour before he uttered the word “Iraq.”

    Finally, I was a bit surprised that he talked about keeping his word and “promises kept” without once mentioning New Orleans.

    To me, Katrina was the moment that america discovered the emperor had no clothes — we can’t defend ourselves against terrorism if we can’t brace ourselves for a storm we saw coming for days.

    as a work of oratory, it was a complete failure. I can think of no rhetorical flourish, no common theme, no signature moment to define the speech’s place in history. it was a mere laundry list of warmed-over republican proposals destined to go nowhere and a few marginally noteworthy concessions. An utterly forgettable speech.

    Webb’s response, on the other hand, was easily the best democratic response in years and clearly the best speech of the night. Of course, previous democratic SOTU responses have been terrible.

  2. PunditMom Says:

    I do agree about his graciousness toward Pelosi … I was surprised he had that in him. Yes, it was the appropriate thing to do, but it was still surprising to me that he was able to mark the moment in a sincere way. I will give him kudos for that.

    Yes, he’s positioning, but is Bush really interested in those things? My guess is no, other than in an attempt to salvage his “legacy.”

  3. impromptublogger Says:

    Well, I can’t stomach watching either but I did hear some commentary this morning. What was up with Kucinich sucking up to GB and waiting to shake his hand, when according to everybody he hates Shrub?

    As far as the graciousness, yeah he showed some manners but he must have been coached well!

  4. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I wasn’t very surprised with what we heard. I was happy that he at least acknowledged problems with the health care system but I don’t even want to go in to the merits of his compromise tax break suggestions. I’ll just get angry all over again.

    That’s pretty much how I felt about everything he said. Angry, but I realize that what we got last night regarding healthcare/oil dependency/Iraq was problably the most “compromise” we’re ever going to get from this president.

    (And David, I completely agree about Katrina. I really am surprised he can mention promises with a straight face.)

  5. Shannon Says:

    I agree, especially on the points regarding his approach to bipartishanship and the similarities to the Nixon presidency. I find it especially troubling that his new approach to Iraq seems to be to listen to what everyone has to say and then take none of it into consideration.

    Cheney’s interview with Wolf Blitzer, which aired on CNN today, only served to bolster the image of an administration that believes they are the only ones smart enough to know what’s best and they are going to do it no matter what anyone else says.

    Hmmmmm. Maybe a bit of a Messiah complex?

  6. Gunfighter Says:

    A nice summation, PM.

    Very nice indeed.

    I, too, will refrain from the discussion on tax breaks, lest I start shouting.

  7. Mayberry Says:

    And then he had to go ahead and invite the Baby Einstein woman to be recognized… I’m all for celebrating a mother’s invention (even of something totally inane) leading to a gazillion dollars in her pocket, but still way unclear on what she was doing there.

  8. lildb Says:


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