I have a prediction to make: the State of the Union is going to be great theater. President Bush will speak eloquently yet simply. Unfortunately, he won’t stand by his accomplishments. That’s because he doesn’t have many.
On education, President Bush has failed. His desire to see children tested on basic skills has led not to an education evolution, but mutation. Children are now taught not to read, but to do well on reading tests. Lower test scores now serve only to remind low-performing schools that they are performing poorly. Without the money promised by the President in the “No Child Left Behind Act,” under-performing schools have no way of enhancing performance through books, computers, smaller class size, or any of the accoutrements that wealthier schools enjoy.
On civil rights, President Bush has become something of a historian, restoring decades-old practices that catered to the fallen white supremacists of the South. Just last week, Newsweek reported that he gave the order to restore the long-forgotten “tradition” of placing a White House wreath on the Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. There was Pickering. Then there was Lott. And there was Pickering, again.
On Social Security, President Bush has been a disgrace. Social Security works by taking the money it has collected each month and sending it out to those who are collecting benefits. President Bush’s idea of “personal accounts” calls for Social Security funds to be diverted into the stock market. If that happens, the people currently receiving Social Security checks soon won’t.
On the economy, President Bush is nothing but guilty. His trillion-dollar tax cut did little for the economy. Consumer spending is down. Confidence is down. The stock market is down. Unemployment has nearly doubled. And now Bush wants to give the wealthiest 1 percent of individuals in the country another tax break. If the President were only to cut his dividend-tax reduction proposal, it would eliminate $300 billion from the “stimulus package” Mr. Bush is proposing. Those hundreds of billions of dollars could be spent on anything from homeland security to education.
President Bush has done an average job of fighting terrorism. He has installed a friendly government in Afghanistan and shut down Al Qaeda there. However, elsewhere he has failed. Osama bin Laden is still at large. The war in Iraq is fueling anti-American sentiments, and alienating us from allies we need to combat Islamic fundamentalism. The Arab-Israeli crisis is providing terrorist groups with recruits. The necessary protections for the homeland are being hindered by the President’s tax cut. His giveaways to the top one percent could have funded national security.
Lately I have written extensively about the failings of the Bush Administration. I know it seems redundant. But I am worried. I believe President Bush is acting not for the good of man, but for the good of a select few. He is damaging our country by eroding our core freedoms, by dismantling economic protections for middle-class Americans, and by destroying the alliances necessary for combating terror.