The real State of the Union
Parliament begins its ‘08 season, question period returns, the Manley Report on Canada’s current and future role in Afghanistan comes out, the Afghanistan detainee controversy sparks up, and there were rumours of a looming election.
Barack Obama’s win in South Carolina started a chain reaction of wild media coverage, endorsement of Obama from Ted and Caroline Kennedy, who compared Obama to her famous father, JFK (let’s hope the parallels stop before the Senator takes a tour of Texas), and talk of Hilary Clinton being finished.
John McCain, who was carrying his own luggage four months ago, wins the Florida primary and now has an executive detail of Secret Service agents carrying his suitcases.
Locally and provincially:
The annual haggle over the city’s budget begins in earnest with the usual suspects grinding their predictable axes. Premier McGuinty is, I guess, still on vacation after the October election. His only comment lately has been to call for greater accountability from the feds on “the environment.” Coal fired plants ring a bell, Dalton?
It’s been a week to remember, for sure. There is one event that stands out in my mind like an ugly beacon signaling what’s wrong with the entire structure of North American politics.
Last Tuesday night, President ‘Dubya’ Bush gave his final State of the Union address. It was a prime time performance, and one that I won’t forget for a long time. Having watched Bush rise to power in a very questionable manner, having watched him fuck up just about everything possible on the international and domestic fronts over his two terms, having had the bad fortune to be a thinking person for the past eight years, it wasn’t a spectacle I wanted to miss.
I knew there was going to be trouble right away. I could just barely make it out, but I swear that Dick Cheney - seated behind Bush during the entire speech - had his arm stuck in Dub’s back, operating him like a ventriloquist does a dummy. It was amazing that Bush didn’t include praise for the fine work BP has done in Iraq’s oil fields. Dub had an evil smirk pasted on his face the entire time, and I couldn’t really understand why. Then I remembered - this was one of Dub’s last public speeches.
Here was a president who had taken more vacation days than any other in history, at a time when America was facing serious domestic and international issues, talking about what American citizens needed to do to help their country. There he was, shaking his finger at Congress, a group of wealthy, mostly white men, telling them what they needed to do to bring America back to it’s rightful place as the most powerful country on the planet.
Dub warned the Democratically-controlled Congress that if they tried to pass bills he didn’t agree with, or if they attempted to raise taxes to pay for the war he started and the “economic stimulus package” he designed, he’d veto those bills. That part, I believed.
Laughing, smiling, Bush went on and on. Periodically, the crowd would stand and applaud like trained seals. The scene reminded me of stories of Joseph Stalin, the Russian leader and butcher of millions of innocent Russians. The story goes that when Stalin had his frightened underlings over for dinner, they were to stand and applaud his entrance. Whoever stopped clapping first would eventually “disappear,” usually after dessert. Stalin drank vodka like water from sun-up to sun-down, so maybe America has been lucky to have a non-drinking president...
Back to Bush. The State of the Union address was one of his final acts as president. And I mean the word “act” literally. He and his administration know very well the real State of the Union, and his speech certainly didn’t detail any of the trouble looming on the horizon, the financial and energy and environmental and moral crunch that the next president will have to deal with, courtesy of Bush and his cronies. In fact, I’m going to submit that Bush should win an Academy Award for Best Delivery in the Completely Meaningless Monlouge category.
That’s why Bush was so happy during the speech and after. All this horrible mess, the endless scandals and blatant rip-offs and death, will be passed onto whichever unfortunate person comes to power in November.
Maybe my favourite scene of the night took place after the speech. Bush wandered through the crowd, shaking hands, still smiling, laughing, being congratulated, then, as the CNN cameras began to pan away, Bush started signing autographs. That was definitely a statement on the union that needed no further commentary.