Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The State of the Union Address

I try never to miss the State of the Union Address, regardless of whom the President is that delivers it. It is a high political moment, one demanding a good cigar and an equally good Scotch.

It is a great moment, indeed, when the announcement is made when the President of the United State enters the House Chamber. Everyone stands and applauds. They applaud not the individual, but the office. It is one of the few moments in Washington, D.C. when there is unanimity, even if it lasts only a couple of minutes.

Here are a few phrases from the first several minutes that I think are worth repeating, most of which deal with the Iraq was and the war on terrorism:

  • “We love our freedom and we will fight to keep it.”
  • “The United States will never retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.”
  • “Our work in Iraq is difficult because our enemy is brutal.”
  • “Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.”
  • “[b]ut those decisions [on withdrawing troops] will be made by military commanders, and not by politicians in Washington, D.C.”
  • “Hindsight is not wisdom, and second guessing is not strategy.”
  • “We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand by our military in this vital mission.”
  • “Elections are vital. But they are only the beginning.”
  • “We have proven the pessimists wrong before, and we will do it again.”
  • “Human life should never be devalued, discarded, or put up for sale.”

I have never—regardless of which party held the White House—thought that there was a legitimate reason for the opposition party to be given a stage to present an opposing view of the State of the Union Address. The comments of the President of the United States should not be open to the partisan sniping of the “loyal opposition.”

The State of the Union Address is the traditional fulfilling of a Constitutional mandate upon the President:
Article. II.,
Section. 3. - He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; …

The Constitution does not go on to say that the other party can rebut this message. You might want to press the argument that the President often makes political statements in his address, but that is irrelevant. The State of the Union Address is to Congress, the message is Constitutional not political, and the opposition party has neither the need nor the right to argue with it. There is plenty of time to do that when the President’s recommendations are taken up for debate.

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