President Bush's State of the Union Address Unusually Frank, Honest
Washington, D.C., January 24, 2007 -- The State of the Union address delivered by President George W. Bush last night was marked by a dramatic departure from the accustomed norm of trumpeting exaggerated successes and presenting a tepid laundry list of future initiatives.
Washington observers believe the new direction for the State of the Union may be due to the failure of the poorly-received 2006 address to boost Bush's stagnant poll numbers.
Whatever the cause, the 2007 State of the Union was closer to moving testimony, a litany of frank and direct confessions, than any previous address in presidential history.
"Let's face it, 2006 was a disaster. Bush failed to address a single one of the major concerns of the American public in that pathetic excuse for a State of the Union," said one pundit who described Bush's demeanor during the address as "weirdly repentant". "Obviously, this year's is an attempt to turn that approach completely on its head. And I think, to be honest, it may stand a good chance of working."
President Bush's approval ratings, which had been hovering around 40 for months prior to the 2006 State of the Union address, failed to take even the three- to five-point jump usually seen after a national speech of this kind.
"In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Bush appears to be seeking some kind of absolution, a sort of moral reckoning of his presidency, if you will," said Mortimer Pewknee, deputy chaplain at the Spiritual Guidance Salvation Drive-Thru in Bethesda. "I have it from a reliable source that President Bush invited Billy Graham over to the White House a few days before the speech to elicit his assistance in a new spiritual rebirth. Bush, I think, is born again, again. Or he may have finally decided to join AA and is doing the steps. One or the other."
Viewers of the 2007 State of the Union were clued in to the new approach almost immediately, as Bush began the address, after the customary introductions, with "My fellow Americans, tonight all your questions will be answered. Tonight all your concerns will be addressed. First of all: yes, I lied about the reasons for war in Iraq. It never had anything to do with WMD. It never had anything to do with 9/11. And I apologize for misleading you."
Bush went on to apologize for a number of lies, failures and omissions, blaming himself and his administration for a broad assortment of the ills now afflicting the American people.
"I stole the 2000 election in Ohio and Florida," Bush said. "It was easy. Too easy not to do it. Are you familiar with the phrase, I think it's in a prayer, 'Lead us not into temptation'? Well, there's a reason for that phrase. I was led into temptation by some unscrupulous people, I took it gladly, and I'm sorry. Mr. Gore, I'm sorry."
"I also authorized the NSA to start wiretapping the phone calls and communications of American citizens," the president stated, "knowing I would be breaking the FISA law, and I'm sorry about that, too. Not sorry I did it, because if I don't protect the American people, what do you think is going to happen to my approval ratings? But I'm sorry I did it without telling anybody, and that I've been abusing my presidential power, and I'm sorry I broke the law doing it."
President Bush also went beyond transgressions within the Oval Office to failures and misdeeds in his wider administration.
"I know torture is wrong," Bush said, "but I thought, like that guy Raskolnikov in Crime & Punishment, which Condi read to me the other month, that sometimes the ends do justify the means, even if they're immoral and illegal. So yes, I authorized Donald Rumsfeld to authorize torture, both in our own detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo, and in that bunch of CIA gulags throughout central and eastern Europe. I realize now that was a little counter-productive, since we didn't get any actionable information out of it and instead increased anti-American hatred and the risk of new terrorist acts by a ton, and I'm sorry about that. It was a mistake, and I also apologize to anybody who was tortured because of me. Especially the innocent guys, which we now know was pretty much all of them."
"And I feel really stupid about having lied to you about knowing Jack Abramoff," he said. "I insulted your intelligence. How could I not know a Bush Pioneer and a leader of one of my transition teams? Jack and I go way back, together with Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist. I'm not proud of knowing them, and knowing what they were doing, and letting them know they wouldn't have to worry about accountability because I had the ability to grant presidential pardons. I just hope I haven't done too much damage to this great democracy we call America."
President Bush brought Vice President Cheney, almost certainly unwillingly, into the spotlight as well, ending with an unexpected bombshell.
"I feel shame," Bush said. "Shame for letting someone like Dick Cheney take over this presidency. I'm ashamed I let him leak the name of a CIA agent in the hope of furthering our mendacious Iraq agenda. I'm ashamed I let him finagle multi-billion dollar war profiteering contracts for Halliburton, his own company. And I'm ashamed of all the lies he's been telling on behalf of this administration. Tomorrow, and you can take this to the bank, Vice President Cheney will be resigning for health reasons."
In a seemingly endless, impassioned, sometimes tearful confession, Bush went on to take personal responsibility for the continuing crisis in health care, the bungling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005, the failed Medicare prescription drug program, the growing gap in income distribution due to unprecedented wartime tax cuts that consistently favored the wealthiest, the failure to properly fund education initiatives, the gutting of environmental controls, the unbridled spread of corruption throughout the Republican party, appointing partisan hacks and cronies to virtually every important post, lying about the purported crisis in Social Security, pulling the U.S. out of vital international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol, the ABM treaty, and the International Criminal Court, pushing energy initiatives and tax breaks for the benefit of oil and coal companies rather than American consumers, allowing policy to be dictated by fanatical Christian ideologues, and allowing the wholesale pillaging of American government, law, and natural resources by powerful lobbies and special interest groups.
Throughout the speech, Congress was completely silent, apparently stunned by the uncharacteristic cavalcade of admissions. The one moment of applause and levity occurred when President Bush, known for his skill at entertaining a difficult crowd, admitted that White House dog Miss Millie, First Lady Laura Bush's Springer Spaniel, is actually a male dog.
"They're both boy dogs, but they seem to love each other, and I think that's all right," President Bush said. "Sexual orientation is a privacy issue, and one the government has no business interfering in. They have the same rights as anyone else."
In leading up to his dramatic finish, Bush brought the topic back to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, a subject he has scrupulously avoided in every State of the Union since the attacks of September 11, 2001 due to his administration's continued failure to bring the infamous terrorist to justice.
"I know the bin Laden family has had a long relationship with the Bush family," President Bush said. "I know my father put armies in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, and that those armies being there probably had a lot to do with us getting attacked on 9/11. And I know I couldn't think about anything other than tax cuts, Iraq and the missile defense shield in 2001, and that I dropped the ball on 9/11. And I just want to say to the American people, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry about that. I hope you can forgive me."
A telephone survey conducted immediately after the conclusion of the speech showed a dramatic fifteen-point leap in President Bush's approval ratings, but analysts suggest the increase will be temporary.
"I think people were shocked and delighted to see the president actually speaking honestly for perhaps the first time in his presidency," said Albert Pohlster, a political statistician with the Gallup organization. "But in a few days, after all of his confessions begin to sink in, I think Congress and the American public are going to be howling for impeachment. And this time, I think they're going to get it."
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
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