Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts on State of the Union

Via dailykos. Damn, that first video was priceless.

Share your thoughts; I'll be updating as he drones.

So I thought that Bush had some missteps as usual, wavering greatly in the middle and losing steam. Not to mention totally sugar-coated his newfangled and disgusting, dare I say, bankrupt health care plan. It truly was momentous to see Nancy Pelosi sitting behind Bush's left shoulder. Funny to have Clinton right behind Obama, and Kennedy sitting next to him. Did the cameras set it up that way or what? Condi looked very venomous, Laura looked starched, shiny, and robotic. Also, what was with Cheney laughing and winking behind Bush as Bush brought up energy independence?!?! So unprofessional. I bet that when he "accidentally" shot his friend, he was laughing about it as well.

This was a super defensive speech by a president who claims he will balance the budget within 5 years?!? Cutting god knows what programs for the poor, elderly, and disabled.

I thought I would write more about Dubya but I was struck by the confident, stately, dignified, pitch perfect response by Virginia Senator Jim Webb (hat tip Crooks and Liars.) It hit all the right notes, ranging from the shrinking middle class and his own experiences waiting for his dad to come home from war, the sacrifices he and his family have made, but their proud history of service. In many respects, he sounded a populist's call to arms, even referencing "robber barons."

"When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost like we're looking at two different countries [nice borrow from Edwards' Two Americas theme] . . . it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day. . . In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone, and our best hope . . . is losing its seat at the table."

I was incredibly proud when Governor Gary Locke was chosen to be the Democratic party's face, but Webb's response is the classiest and just spot-on one I have ever seen. The stark contrast between his leadership and Bush's lack thereof is mindblowing. This contrast is strong because of several areas:

1) Webb is a former Navy Secretary to the neocon Godfather, REAGAN. That he has come around 180 degrees like this and can rhetorically kick Dubya to the moon is craaaazy. He demonstrates the power of rational thought and steady leadership and experience. Bush comes off as nothing more than a Johnny come lately in a flypaper suit. He blows Bush away.

2) Webb is a fighter for the little guy - he gets that the middle class is being squeezed dry. He also manages to throw former Republican president Roosevelt's quote about not cozying up to corporate "robber barons" in Bush's face. He manages to be empathetic while strong and commanding, without taking on the victim's mentality that Repubs accuse the Dems of.

3) Webb's personal and family history of military service
Bush evaded going to Vietnam, while Webb proved himself with distinction. Much like the difference between Webb's choice of footwear during the campaign, and that ex-senator George "Macaca" Allen, it is easy to see that Webb's principles come from the heart, and his deep history. Recall the flareup between him and Bush when he greeted Bush as a newly elected Senator and asked for his boy, and all our soldiers to be brought home. This highlights the distinction. It is the difference between a young boy playing cowboy dressup and the real deal. (Between Webb and Obama, these guys are completely redefining how hot Democratic masculinity can be!) Whoa, nelly!

4) This was as riveting and powerful a speech as Bush's was dry and stale. To the degree that the first thing the FOX pundit said was that it was a "masterful" speech by Webb.

5) Let's not forget, Webb's Senate victory over the much-maligned (justly so) Allen is why we have the Senate in the thinnest of wins. It is why we are able to move forward a real agenda for change.

If Webb wanted to catapault himself into the top ranks of VP candidates (and set himself up for a future presidential run), this is an excellent way to do it:

When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country. I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues ­ those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death ­ we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us ­ sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

And finally, the kicker:
These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

All I can say is that if it had been him instead of Kerry running, we would have won in 2004.

Thank you Senator Webb for showing Virginians true leadership. I am positive that next election (assuming you aren't running for higher office and even if you are), Virginians will reward your courage with a landslide victory. Virginia and the country have been thirsty for leadership like yours, and thank god you're in office as opposed to Allen. Thank you for this clean, elegant and utterly devastating rhetorical kill. Thank you for showing America the power and strength of the Democratic vision.

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