Even Congress finds much to applaud in State of Union speech

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2002

In a sense, President Bush's State of the Union address was a massive pep rally. The president, poised and confident -- even articulate -- was interrupted by applause 77 times in 48 minutes.

Even the highly partisan Congress appreciated Bush's firmness when he declared, in reference to the war on terrorism, that "evil is real and it must be opposed." Congress also enjoyed his vision when he said, "This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity" to correct some egregious injustices across the globe.

Members certainly appreciated his upbeat nature when he began by saying the nation "has never been stronger."

The president had some sobering thoughts, too. He reported tens of thousands of terrorists, trained in Afghanistan, are "spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs set to go off without warning." But he tempered his words with assurances that his priority was wiping out terrorism.

Bush noted that the war on terrorism costs $30 million a day. He vowed that budget deficits, needed to combat terrorism and the recession, "will be small and short-term so long as Congress restrains spending." That focuses attention where it is sorely needed.

To recharge the economy, the president pledged to work for job creation. That has to include tax relief and free trade reforms, both which the Senate has been resisting.

The Senate, which has 50 House-passed bills stuck in committee, seems out of touch based on a Gallup Poll taken immediately following the speech.

The poll found that 74 percent of all Democrats -- plus over 90 percent of independents and Republicans -- thought Bush was heading the country in the right direction. During an election year, it isn't a wise idea to obstruct the policies embraced not only by the president but by an overwhelming majority of the voters.

-- The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville

Jan. 31

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