Back in the late ‘80s, during his negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev, President Reagan used to repeat the Russian proverb: “doveryai, no proveryai"--“trust but verify.” The--updated--theme for tonight might well be “trust but take a reality check.” Trusting the people (and empowering them through government action) is a great theme but, as I pointed out earlier, it is at odds with the actual record of the Bush administration. Taking action against congressional earmarks is clearly needed--but doing so tonight makes you wonder who has been president during the past eight years of runaway wasteful government spending.
The policy paper the White House put out tonight along with the speech headlined the education section of the State of the Union as “Empowering Parents With More Choices For Their Children's Education”--except the policies the President mentioned do little to nothing to accomplish this. The president's mention of service would be more believable if he hadn't tried to cut the funds for national service. It is wonderful that President Bush did this year what he did not do last year: mention New Orleans--it would be even better if his Administration was taking real action to rebuild one of America’s great cities instead of leaving large sections of it in a state of destruction two and half years after Katrina.