A few first responses to tonight's speech. These are immediate reactions without having bothered to locate a transcript:
- In a long speech, some significant subjects were largely ignored. Not a single word on the environment, crime, or drugs. Lots of discussion of how we're transforming the Middle East, but one offhand reference to the Israel/Palestine problem. Half the speech or more about 9/11, but no mention of Osama; in fact, there was reportedly not a single mention from the podium during the entire convention.
- Promises to make the tax cut permanent, along with other promises to redesign the tax code. Various new or expanded programs announced along with the privatization of Social Security. Probably all told at least $2 trillion or more increase in the debt over the next decade without a single word about where the money is coming from.
- Most of the promises I heard were so utterly vague as to be essentially meaningless: move toward energy independence, more jobs, more for community colleges (which need it mostly because Bush policies have devastated state and local budgets). No specifics at all on homeland security.
- Regular readers will be shocked to learn that I don't like George Bush and rarely listen to his speeches. In fact. this likely was the first speech of his I've heard from beginning to end since the speech to announce the invasion of Iraq. Even so, I recognized several bits in tonight's speech from excerpts I've seen on the news. That's very unusual to my knowledge - generally major speeches like this are drafted from scratch.
- The protest interruptions were strange. Apparently there were only two or three protesters, and what they were doing I couldn't see. Yet only a few people produced such anger and shouting in the crowd that Bush could barely go on with his speech. Is the sight of one dissenter in a hall of thousands really that disturbing to these people?
- The sections on Iraq and Afghanistan had a total disconnect from reality. They spoke of the people of those countries being liberated, of the countries being democracies, as if these were accomplished facts. I can't recall one mention that our troops are still dying in both countries, that their 'democratic' governments are essentially headed by American appointees, that the writ of the 'national' government of Afghanistan barely seems to expand beyond Kabul, that large parts of Iraq are now effectively under control of Shia fundamentalists who support Iran and Sunnis who support Al Qaeda. And yet with these obvious failures Bush is mostly promising more of the same, talking about a wave of freedom about to sweep the Arab World when there is little or no democracy in any Arab state and, truly strange, no evidence I have ever seen of a mass popular movement for democracy in any Arab nation.