A house divided and lack of focus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Bush encountered what could only be described as a house divided and hostile crowd.

With Republicans and Democrats clearly at odds over the president's initiatives, achievements and motivations, the tension of the House of Representatives Chamber was all too clear.

From the outset it was apparent that President Bush would not dwell on many controversial subjects - at least on the surface. Instead, President Bush tried to rally the masses assembled, and focused the first half of his speech on the war on terrorism - primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Bush was extremely defensive of his actions in the Middle East, saying it was a necessary action.

However, instead of a rousing round of applause, the president saw the lawmakers assembled in the lower chamber of Congress divide along party lines. It was even more evident when he mentioned reaffirming portions of the Patriot Act which are set to expire this year.

We don't think that reaffirmation will happen.

We believe President Bush took a relatively safe approach to his speech in every aspect.

In fact, we'll have to say we were disappointed in the president's skirting of some of the issues we feel have the potential to impact our portion of the country greatly - military base closings.

Alabama is heavily dependent on the military, and a large portion of our own local Covington County population is heavily dependent upon the three military installations within an hour's drive of the area - Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Fort Rucker, and Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

We would have liked to have heard more on this plan - specifically the plan to keep these vital bases open, especially in times where national security should be of the utmost importance.

Instead of mentioning just a snippet about that issue, the president talked up his decisions on actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, pumped up his economic programs and introduced his thoughts on preferred legislation this coming session of Congress.

It is an election year, and we have to say the President gave a pretty good campaign speech - but that's to be expected of any incumbent delivering any global speech.

We remember President Clinton's final State of the Union - a cheer leading speech focused on his accomplishments over his past seven years in office.

It's been done by every incumbent since the speeches were first released to the public.

However, the fact remains that President Bush skirted issues and did not present substantial plans for resolving important issues. For that, we must give a thumbs down.

We must also give a thumbs down to the Democrats in attendance who actually showed no respect and booed during portions of the president's speech. That was unnecessary and untactful.

We only hope that in the coming months, someone, President Bush or another presidential candidate will present some real solutions to problems facing our country; and do it with the respect and spirit that truly is the American way.