State of the DiscordLast night's State of the Union was long on generalities and short on reality. It was a speech designed to pacify instead of produce results or lead the way in terms of any real policy initiatives. The first part of the speech did deal with two critical policy initiatives that should have been dealt with five or six years ago-there is no excuse for waiting until now to deal with them. The ballooning federal budget and budget deficit? Well, it is 2007 and the President has 24 months left in office, and now we finally hear:
First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget.
Where was this spending discipline before now, Mr. President? This is one of the things conservatives elected you to do. I believed that since a Republican Congress essentially forced a balanced budget down Bill Clinton's throat like castor oil being given to a bratty child (Remember the government shutdown?), we would have no problem getting a Republican Congress to approve balanced budgets and sending them to a Republican President. Apparently, all that united government of either party has come to mean in this country is that an undisciplined wreck will ensue. Everyone talks about how bad the national debt is, but that debt began under Democratic Congresses with Democratic presidents. Likewise, the present federal deficit began under a Republican Congress with a Republican president. The longer that I live the more I begin to wonder if it is fiscally wise for one party to control the White House and both Houses of Congress.
Apparently, it took a bad election to get the President to mention something about a campaign promise he made back in 2000:
Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign them into law. Yet, they're treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session.
Earmarks which are unvoted on are, to be fair, part of the reason for the fiscal undiscipline of nearly every Congress for the last 50 years. The President pledged in 2000 that he would bring the practice of earmarks to an end. He gets around to raising the issue when he doesn't have enough time left to do so. Dare I hold out hope that he will stem the ever-rising tide of both earmarks and unfunded mandates? I would love to believe it, but I am not holding my breath...
The biggest issue in the address was, of course, the war in Iraq. Readers will forgive me for not breaking down that part of the speech and picking it apart bit by bit, because that would take all day. This part, however, stuck out:
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.
The President is right about the situation on the ground in Iraq, but he failed to mention that it is the way it is because he insisted upon going to war there. Things are the way they are in Iraq because the President's policy has made them that way. That isn't to say that the enemies we fight would not be enemies of America were we not in Iraq...they would and they hate us just as the President said. Our enemies, however, do not operate in accordance with the accepted rules of warfare-they kill without regard to the innocent. To defeat those in Iraq who are the true enemies of America in the way the President means would require us to kill in the way that the enemy kills-we need to slaughter both enemies and potential enemies in wholesale fashion. To do so would make victory all but certain...
But we are not like our enemies. In spite of what liberals in this country think, we are still a Christian nation. A Christian nation should never behave in the manner that America's enemies do. To do what would be required for absolute victory would be genocide, and would be a crime against humanity on a scale never before seen. Even though our enemies have no honor, we must maintain our own. Knowing that the cost of total military victory would require such a high human price, I would rather have peace with honor and simply partition Iraq and withdraw from the place.
The Democrats do not have a tenable answer either. They want to pass a non-binding resolution condemning the war when troops are about to disembark for Iraq. A really smart move, boys and girls-send the troops off while passing a resolution denouncing their mission. I agree with Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) who said that rather than make such a terrible move, just cut funding for the war. Take real action, not just some phony resolution that is nothing but a slap in the face to the men and women in uniform.
We have an administration that doesn't give a damn, and an opposition that isn't worth one.
Labels: Federal politics