The pres­i­dent’s ad­dress

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

With a tone per­haps more con­cil­ia­tory than his crit­ics have come to ex­pect, Pres­i­dent Bush em­pha­sized in his 2007 State of the Union ad­dress many of the themes and is­sues on which he should be able to play at least some mod­est role of “uniter,” not “divider.” Mr. Bush front-loaded do­mes­tic is­sues and of­fered Democrats a se­ries of seem­ingly un­ob­jec­tion­able footholds on the is­sue of ter­ror­ism, in ad­di­tion to the more con­tro­ver­sial as­ser­tions on Iraq which we all knew Democrats would not sup­port.

Alas, it was not to be, not in this poi­sonous po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere. In too many in­stances, from health in­sur­ance to en­ergy to im­mi­gra­tion to na­tional se­cu­rity, the Democrats could not even ap­plaud their own ideas when adopted and pre­sented on Jan. 23. Tellingly, Democrats could not even bring them­selves to ap­plaud a vig­or­ous war on ter­ror. “[O]ne ques­tion has surely been set­tled: To win the war on ter­ror, we must take the fight to the en­emy,” the pres­i­dent said. Demo­cratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat be­hind the pres­i­dent un­moved and silent.

So, of course, Democrats would not be seen ap­plaud­ing a call for vic­tory in an Iraq war which they have al­ready cast to de­feat: “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.” Si- lence. As the cam­eras showed, Sen. Joe Lieber­man was the only Demo­crat to rise to this last no­tion: “[W]hat­ever you voted for, you did not vote for fail­ure.” Only a call of sup­port for the troops could rouse De- mo­cratic ap­plause.

This is new ter­rain. It ex­tends op­po­si­tion to Mr. Bush’s Iraq pol­icy to op­po­si­tion to a vig­or­ous pros­e­cu­tion of the war on ter­ror­ism gen­er­ally. It makes a mock­ery of the words of Sen. James Webb, the fresh­man Vir­ginia Demo­crat, in his re­sponse to the pres­i­dent: “Not one step back from the war against in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism.” It also makes a mock­ery of the Democrats’ “sup­port” for the troops.

The other pol­icy ar­eas that Mr. Bush pre­sented on Jan. 23 should be grounds for di­a­logue and, per­haps, even­tual agree­ment. On health in­sur­ance, Mr. Bush pro­posed what amounts to a tax on wealthy Amer­i­cans to ex­tend cov­er­age for the poor. Rep. Charles Ran­gel called this “bad pol­icy.” “Such is the knee-jerk state of par­ti­san sus­pi­cious­ness that when the pres­i­dent ac­tu­ally en­dorses a tax in­crease — a tax in­crease that would pri­mar­ily hit the well-off, no less — Democrats still howl,” wrote The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Ruth Mar­cus, not known for Bush apolo­get­ics.

On im­mi­gra­tion, the open-borders pres­i­dent of­fered much of the same, which should also be palat­able to Democrats. This sea­son of ob­struc­tion­ism seems to know few bounds.

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