Bush surprises in State of Union | VailDaily.com

Bush surprises in State of Union

Don Rogers

You didn’t even have to hear him speak. You could see it in the obvious discomfort of Dem-ocratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle when the TV camera found him during the speech.

For all the Tex-Yale mangling of the language and malaprops, Bush has bettered his loquacious predecessor in effective speechifying. Clinton came across as more clever, yet Bush is the more convincing. Perhaps it’s because he comes across as actually meaning what he says. Whether you agree with his views is another story, of course.

Besides the strength of the speech itself, surprises included committing to really fighting AIDs in Africa, and to spending nearly $2 billion researching a conversion to hydrogen engines for American autos.

Dems, go ahead and sneer all you like, but Billy Bub never put such initiatives on the table. Another bold move was calling on Congress to take all those tax cuts of the future and carry out them now.

Bush’s case for resolve against Iraq’s evil dictator met with support on both sides of the aisle, Democrats joining Republicans in standing and clapping. His case for America doing what it feels it must, with the United Nations or alone if need be, was compelling even if he didn’t fully close the argument for war now.

Sure, Iraq must be hiding untold munitions in a countryside the size of California from 108 heavily monitored weapons inspectors. But rail as he does that Saddam must prove he doesn’t have nuclear, biological or other programs brewing for weapons of mass destruction, the world and much of his own nation seek more proof.

That famously American penchant for fairness demands evidence over deductions, even well-spoken ones such as Bush laid out in the Senate chambers.

The most surprising thing about President Bush might well be how his critics continue to denigrate his intellect, as well as his views, and thereby set themselves to be bowled over.

Mid-term curse?

Presidents named Bush have the highest mid-term approval ratings going back to LBJ. The first Bush, of course, enjoyed an 82 percent favorable rating before the big fall that led to Bill Clinton supplanting him.

George W.’s 61 percent approval rating beats Clinton’s 47 percent, Reagan’s 37 percent, Carter’s 43 percent, Ford’s 45 percent and Nixon’s 56 percent. Reagan, Clinton and Nixon went on to win second terms. His dad failed, as did LBJ, who had a 71 percent approval rating at midterm.

A refreshing quality about Bush is that he at least seems not to care in the slightest about polls, mid-term or otherwise. Poll watching is a rear-view-mirror exercise anyway. D.R.

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