Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Very brief thoughts on SOTU

The lovely Mrs. Jib played good citizen tonight and willingly turned on the President's SOTU address. I have just a couple of thoughts on it. First, I liked the tone. It was a calm, optimistic speech, which I think strikes just about the right tone for the times. Our near future has some clouds in the sky when it comes to foreign affairs, but things are uncertain enough yet that soaring rhetoric was not really advisable, and Bush and his speech writers wisely avoided it.

As for specifics, I think he brought up a few real clunker proposals. I was a little baffled as to why he thinks we need a competition initiative. As long as we are turning out well educated young adults and encouraging research and investment, we'll be competitive. America has never needed the government to help it find its competitive edge.

I was also a little bothered by the energy portion of his speech. I'm all for America finding a way to be energy self sufficient, but the moment ethanol entered the President's speech, I knew this plan has not been thought through well enough yet. And while it will be great to have a better control over our energy situation, does he and his staff think the Middle East will be any less of a problem if tomorrow we discover our miracle energy and quickly re-tool the economy to run on it? The only thing that resembles stability in the Middle East right now are the grotesque regimes that can enforce order because of their oil wealth. Take away the oil wealth and an even less palatable group is in a prime position to start raising even more hell-radical Islamists. A balanced menu of energy options that includes oil, but is not overly reliant upon it, is what we need because it will allow us to place maximum pressure on the oil producing regimes in the Middle East without crashing their economies and spinning them into chaos. Yes, increase our efforts to develop the next great energy source, but this was a little too pie in sky for my tastes.

Overall, I give the speech a 'B'. It was not a memorable speech, but the times don't call for it right now. Some of the specifics concern me, though, and I'm afraid the administration is going to hang some zeros on the scoreboards with a few of them.

No comments: