Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bush speech roundup

With many analyses and responses trying to put a negative spin on the President’s speech, it was hard to find a positive take, though I did succeed, in perhaps the unlikeliest place--the New York Times. What’s more the NYT’s analysis struck me as more even-handed than the WaPo’s, which, by the way, is to some degree undercut by its own front page story.

I did learn a couple of things from reading all this. First, although he didn’t mention it in the speech, the President is calling for education vouchers for displaced families. I’d love to see them, and I wonder if the Democrats think they can afford the risk of opposing this proposal and obstructing the package of which it’s likely to be a part.

Second, I learned that Michael Gerson had a hand in the speech, which may explain why I liked it as much as I did.

In the end, I’m not convinced that the Democrats can effectively defeat the President on this. He has seized the initiative and can, I think, successfully look forward, while the Democrats are left looking back in anger (which I don’t think will play well with anyone but the Kossacks) while simultaneously trying to outbid him. He can, of course, still botch this winning hand, but I think, I hope, he won’t. And for those who say that he’s playing an unfamiliar role (as domestic president), it’s only because they haven’t paid sufficient attention to his 2000 campaign or his pre-9/11 presidency, which had a substantial domestic focus and some success. He can’t, of course, emote to a crowd the way Bill Clinton can, but GWB sincerely and sympathetically connects one-on-one and with small groups. He’s got the right proposals and the correct orientation. If the Republicans follow him--as they should, if they know what’s good for them--the country will.

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