Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 :::

Yet there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.

And tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our Nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.

I thought the pablum was better than usual this year. Not spectacular, and (as is the case every year) I'd like more details on some of the new spending. But better than par.

And to the extent that Bush's address doesn't make me pleased to be a Republican, the Democratic response does. It wasn't strident, but there was a pervasive tone that the health of the country and the health of its government are synonymous. The Republican party may not be, as we sometimes like to style ourselves, the party of small government. But if there were a (serious) party of small government, we'd be it.

UPDATE: According to Brit Hume ("you won't be surprised to hear"), the new (Democratic) Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez didn't think much of the President's address. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) "you also won't be surprised to hear, liked the President's address, even though his statement saying so was released when the address was only half over." (Quote from memory, and therefore imperfect.)

UPDATE 2: The Fox News crew seems to think more highly of the response than I did. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer is talking about a poll saying only 48% of people who saw the speech liked it, but I didn't catch the nature of the poll. Paul Begala thinks Bush was too abstract to connect ("competitiveness? What is that?") whereas Kaine spoke to more specifics ("they're cutting student loans", etc.).

UPDATE 3: A few specific thoughts of mine (rattled off, like the rest of this entry): I liked that Bush addressed a few lines to the people of Iran. I'm sure the President has read Shiransky's comments that Russian dissidents heard and were heartened by Reagan's words... I want to know more about his alternative energy spending, but I support in theory some subsidies for non-oil energy sources, both because of pollution and national security issues... He mentioned the continuing growth of entitlement spending, and he probably could have talked about it more. I like that he let the Democrats celebrate their sinking of his social security plan for a while before pointing out that they certainly didn't make the problem go away by doing so... Some of his talk on education was welcome, though some of it sounded like he wanted to push a few more people up from lower-middle class to upper-middle class. I think a bigger problem is going to be that the very bottom of our labor force isn't going to see any improvement in their ability to get by. Any unskilled jobs that can be shipped to cheaper locales will be. Many unskilled jobs can not be shipped overseas — janitorial work, for example, and some kinds of journalism — but I think globalization is cutting demand for unskilled Americans faster than education is holding down the supply, and his comments struck me as tinkering around the edges. Not that I have a better idea, and I certainly don't think protectionism is one... Speaking of protectionism, Bush's opposition to it seemed populist ("a Nation that competes with confidence"), which appeals to me less than arguments of comparative advantage. On the other hand, if Bush had talked about comparative advantage, he would have lost a lot more people than are like me. And his result was right, and portions of his argument were right.

UPDATE whatever I'm up to: The National Review people don't seem impressed by Kaine's response, but they seem more focused on his eyebrows than on content.

::: posted by Steven at 10:14 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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