Considering some of the comments of late, I have a hard time not commenting on tonight’s State of the Union address by President George W. Bush.
Thinking my wife would be watching the latest episode of America’s Next Top Model, I tried to watch the speech online. Apparently the Whitehouse web site was going to webcast the speech. Two minutes before the speech began I couldn’t find any indication on the site of how or where to access the webcast. Thankfully, even UPN opted to cover the speech, so I was able to watch it on old fashioned TV. Now that the speech is over, I see two little Real and Win icons which launch the webcast, though no text to indicate as much. Did anybody else try to watch the speech online? Any success?
Aside from the technical hurtles, I found the speech mildly entertaining. My favorite part was when Bush said, “Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year,” and the Democrat side of Congress erupted in applause. Not to be outdone, the Republicans cheered as Bush finished his statement, “The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule,” with an additional scowl to the Democrats. I don’t know enough about the Patriot Act to take a side, I just thought the reactions were funny. It’s almost as good as reality TV.
One comment I found especially odd, and it still puzzles me: “For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible — and no one can now doubt the word of America.” Bush said these words after the example of Libya giving up its WMD programs after negotiations. But I wonder how Bush can possibly think America is credible in the eyes of the world when the tons and tons of weapons of mass destruction we went to war over are nonexistant. ABC panned to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and I wondered if the ABC director was thinking the same thing, remembering Powell’s display of intelligence before the United Nations.
Finally, there are these words on freedom:
We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare. Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.
As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny, despair, and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends. So America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East.
A recent post of mine on poverty drew criticism that I contradict myself in supporting the rights of the poor in the U.S., while not supporting the rights of Iraqis brutalized under Saddam Hussein. Those comments seem to completely agree with Bush’s remarks above, but I think I see things differently.
I hear a call from the Bible to protect the innocent, care for the poor, uplift the downtrodden, but I also hear a call from the Bible — and especially Jesus — to be peacemakers. This is a debate I’ve had many times before, and I see no clear answers. Sometimes force is required to maintain peace and justice, but that’s a contradictory approach. There aren’t any easy answers.
Freedom and democracy are great things, but I guess I don’t see them as answers to the world’s problems. You can protect the innocent, care for the poor, uplift the downtrodden and promote peace and justice without the freedom and democracy we have in the U.S. Maybe I sound like an idiot. Freedom and democracy probably make it easier to do those things, but freedom and democracy aren’t the goal. Peace and justice are, so why not focus on them? You’re aiming for the wrong goal, and in attaining that goal you’ll have lost site of the true goal.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, as the verse goes, not on churches or sermons or pastors or books or doctrines or any of those things that can be wonderful in the walk of faith, but in and of themselves are nothing.
Maybe I’m totally off-base, but that’s my perspective at 10:21 p.m. CT on the eve of the State of the Union address.