Responding to the State of the Union
by Peter Deccy, Peace Action
President Obama’s third State of the Union message began and ended in homily honoring our men and women in uniform. The President referred to them as the one institution that actually worked like it should. Mission focused, trusting one another, working as a team.
He encouraged our government to be just like them. We’ll see…
If you were watching the address on the CSPAN website, you could see Members of Congress furiously tweeting their thoughts which then appeared below the screen. Many of them apparently didn’t hear the clarion call for togetherness, instead engaging in accusations of class warfare and decrying higher taxes for the rich as soon as the President’s words on those topics left his lips.
The President made a great case for the rich paying its fair share, a call for fundamental fairness in taxation. He called for investment in energy independence and job creation as expected, but still, welcome words to the progressive wing of his party.
He was passionate. He was confident. In response, Governor Daniels provided an uninspired regurgitation of the standard Republican line, very Herbert Hoover, circa 1928. Very 1%.
Peace advocates however, should be concerned. The President seemed to be capping Pentagon cuts at $500 billion, far below what is possible, leaving spending at intolerable and unsustainable levels. It’s just as he described in his speech; “somebody else has to make up the difference— like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet.”
He basically promised Iran he would order a military strike on their alleged nuclear facilities if he became convinced they were about to build their first nuclear bomb. He made no reference to abolishing nuclear weapons, his claim to Nobel fame, his Prague pledge.
Afghanistan? The President recommitted himself to withdrawing the remaining surge troops this summer, but then spoke of an “enduring partnership” to prevent the return of al-Qaida. With some 65,000 troops left in Afghanistan after the summer drawdown, the President may well be signaling a long and costly US military presence. Given the levels of corruption in Afghanistan’s government, which really controls very little of the country, the grinding poverty and an insurgency that is unlikely to disappear as long as foreign troops remain, very long and very costly.
A Veterans Job Corps sounded good, but he really didn’t have enough to say about our returning veterans either. Will they, each and everyone, receive the medical care they need, and everything else the recruiter promised them.
In the end, the President returned to honoring the dedication and professionalism of our military. He used the raid on bin Laden as his touchstone. This is how all America should confront its challenges; working together, focused on the mission at hand. How could Republicans possibly resist working with the President for the sake of America.
Nicely done, but the tweets told me don’t get my hopes up.