Monday, January 29, 2007

Who didn't get the memo?

Sitting down to watch President Bush's 7th State of the Union address to members of the 110th U.S. Congress and other assorted guests, the change in atmosphere was palpable. It began when President Bush began by shaking the hand of new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). It continued when the President finally acknowledged the reality of global warming, and put forth his initative to reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 20% in the next ten years. It continued further when the President awoke to the danger posed by our continuing reliance on debt to finance our government's operations, when he proposed balancing the federal budget by 2012.

But then President Bush began to discuss the situation in Iraq, and it was almost as though he had missed a memo and gone back to the old G.W. Bush. He voiced the same old tired justifications about the war on terror and 9/11. And in the end, he persuaded no one, absolutely no one, to support his new policy of escalating the situation in Iraq. Call it a "surge," call it the "McCain Doctrine" as dailykos has done, whatever sounds good, but in the battle between James Baker and Dick Cheney for the President's ear, its clear that Cheney won. The Baker-Hamilton report has clearly been discarded.

But then, in the Democratic response, we saw Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) throw down the gauntlet. A Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat, I was skeptical of Tim Russert's assertion that Webb was a Democrat "to his bones," until I heard him speak. Sen. Webb was articulate, intelligent, and, in a speech he wrote himself, managed to overshadow in nine minutes President Bush's hour-long oratory.

And, just in case President Bush didn't get the memo, he was a stark reminder of how much things have changed in Washington D.C.

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