Thursday, January 25, 2007

State of the President

There are very few people in the public eye who I consider worthy of my admiration. My admiration is limited to public figures who can understand and articulate competing moral positions and points of view. I make every effort to be fair when evaluating the character of public figures, but I am usually disappointed because most public figures only represent one side of an issue. Most Politician’s, Pastor’s, and Pundit’s become so obsessed with selling their own point of view, they inevitably discount all other points of view.

As I watched and listened to the State of the Union address by President Bush Tuesday night, I was amazed at how fair he was to competing points of view. He said he wanted to resolve illegal immigration without animosity and without amnesty. This one powerful sentence represented the entire tone and substance of his speech.

President Bush believes government has an important role in helping improve the lives of people throughout the world. I disagree with him. I believe government has a small role, but mostly should be limited so free people making their own decisions can improve their own lives. However, as the speech progressed, I realized I mostly agreed with everything President Bush stated even as I also realized his ideas involve much more government than I would like. I suspect the Democrat’s who are fair in their assessment of President Bush's speech would agree with most of what he said while also wishing for more government involvement.

In his State of the Union speech, President Bush was extremely fair to both sides on most issues. My admiration for the character of George W. Bush continues to grow.

I found this analysis regarding public policy towards the poor by Nathan Smith to be very thoughtful:

Poor Arguments: Bush, Webb and Poverty

Selected excerpts:

Last night, President Bush's State of the Union address and Senator James Webb's Democratic response provided a useful juxtaposition of views. Among other things, it showed how the parties' positions on poverty have changed.

President Bush seeks to inspire altruism by encouraging Americans to compare themselves with those who have less:
"American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease."

Sen. Webb, by contrast, encourages Americans to compare themselves to those who have more, and feel envy. Although Sen. Webb borrows John Edwards' "two nations" theme ("it's almost like we were living in two different countries"), unlike Edwards, Webb makes no mention of helping the poor. Sen. Webb's message is that "the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table."


Buz said...

Well, he must be walking a fine line down the middle, because most folk on the left and the right hate him.


David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

I don’t think President Bush is a moderate. He is to the left of me, but there is a lot of room to the left of me before someone makes it to moderate category. I think President Bush is a political realist, and he is an honorable man. He seems to be doing everything he can to lead a divided government and a divided nation. I think there are very few politicians or leaders who could withstand all of the rhetorical abuse he has received and still show so much dignity in how he responds to his political opponents.

Hate for President Bush comes mostly from the left, but you are correct, there is a portion of the right who also hate him. It is a blessing that we have such a fine man to lead our country during this difficult and divided time in history. Considering the state or politics in America now, President Bush will be hard to replace. The next President, whether Democratic or Republican, is in for a very rough four years.

The Count said...

I have to admit, I was quite eager to hear Webb's response- almost as much as the President's speech. Webb was impressive but ultimately a disappointment. Really, he is just a coil of rage that is just more in control than usual. The Democrats were brilliant to use him.

I agree that the class and character of President Bush will be greatly missed in a few years. A wide open field and none who seem worthy. Then again, I thought pretty low of Bush in the beginning.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Count,

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

I knew a little bit about Senator Webb from his recent Senatorial campaign, but mostly only through sound bites and commentary. His first sentence started me to believe the tone in Washington could change, but the rest of his response was the same old drivel, just without the same old harshness. President Bush spent most of his speech on areas of agreement; Senator Webb didn’t make any effort to find any area of agreement.

I have always liked President Bush because he seemed more ordinary than most politicians. I wouldn’t want to be around most politicians for even one minute. President Bush has always been likeable to me, but this State of the Union Speech demonstrated that he is also quite the Statesman. He has grown in office like few others.

Adversity is said to build character. Too bad we will be losing President Bush after he has been through the fire. Perhaps he will also be an exceptional ex-President like few others.

Note to other readers: The Counts link from his comment did not work. He blogs at Strange Monkey Doll. It is one of my favorite blogs because the Count takes on many of his thoughtful, yet one-sided, Democratic friends.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- The State of the Union proposals were great. Too bad they weren't proposed in Jan. 2005, when he may have overcome the GOP opposition to immigration reform and the Democrat opposition to market-based health-care reform. Instead, in 2005, after barely getting re-elected, he made a pie-in-the-sky, half-hearted push to completely change Social Security. It's something Reagan wouldn't have dreamed of trying after carrying 49 states!

It's analogous to Iraq. In 2005, Petreus was side lined, when he may possibly have changed to the course of the war. Now he's front and center, two years too late.

I think that Bush's problem is that cocky overconfidence served him extremely well, until it didn't. It's a human foible at least as old as history -- what the Greeks called Hubris.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

Perhaps the reason I admire President Bush so much is because I share a few weaknesses with him. I am very reluctant to start something new until I have my ducks all in a row, but once I do start, I usually see my project through until the end. I take my time making decisions, even a decision to buy a new pair of pants or a new shirt might take more than a week for me, but once I make a decision, I make it with confidence. I am not a good leader on projects that take quick thinking and on the spot adjustments.

President Bush did make a good speech because it was based on what we know now including the change in the Senate and House of Representatives. I think your criticism is fair. In some ways he was late in coming to a few realizations. I’m not crazy about his new proposals, but I give him credit for being willing to compromise now, even if it is a little late for you.