Bush proved H.L. Mencken right that speeches by politicians are all about saying as many words as possible without actually saying anything of substance or detail. Of course, the affair started out with the traditional common courtesies (I.E. butt-kissing tirades) intended to bestow some dignity to an undignified system. Bush's entire speech was spoken completely in generalities and much of it is specifically designed so that he is saying certain things that noone disagrees with (as to fool them into agreeing with him about other things) such as "we should protect liberty!" or "our country faces many problems". Who, on this blog, or in the entire country, actually disagrees with such a general statement? Who doesn't think that they should have rights? Who doesn't think that our country faces problems? Such statements are explicitly intended to command the agreement of the listener without actually saying anything.
Half of the speech was made up of this complex, where he is droning on and on trying to pander to both sides at once (for example, by saying that "we should do X in an environmentally safe way" while simultanously saying that "we should pump up oil production in an economically efficient way", thus trying to pander to both the environmentalists and those who oppose them with the will to expand oil production). When he was not in this mode, he switched to a different personna where he was trying to invoke fear in the listener about terrorism, and what comes off as an invocation of fear of Islam and certain countries in themselves.
When Bush is in this mode, he repeats assinine assertions in defense of aggressive foreign intervention and exessive and unconstitutional police powers domestically, thus showing his obcessive devotion to military-economic fascism as a governmental ideal. One also cannot help, from the perspective of a libertarian informed as to the problems with Democracy, but be mystified by the man's unquestioning dedication to Democracy, especially imposing it on others through military might. This speech was the ultimate example of political pedagoguery. It's like a broken record that started when he entered office and has not stopped since. Just about every speech Bush has ever made as a president is virtually indistinguishable from this speech. At every oppurtunity to have such a political moment, the man enters a dream world where he thinks that he is Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt and it's WWIII. As much as I disagree with the bulk of the policies (if not all of them) of both Wilson and Roosevelt, they were at least better and more witty demagogues then Bush will ever approach being. Ultimately, under close inspection, he combines some of the worst aspects of both left-wing and right-wing politics. He is the ultimate "establishment centrist" in this sense.
In Bush, one sees an individual that is almost completely isolated from the average person, who is living in a manner in which one is entirely detached from the rippling effects of one's actions. He lives in a world where a practically imaginary "enemy" is always around the corner, and therefore one must take swift action without reflection, lest we be gobbled up by the boogey men behind door C. I personally chose door B. As such, it is inevitable that such a situation will lead individuals to take oblivious actions. Bush is simply oblivious as to what the people, both at home and abroad, actually value, while he simultanously recited speeches written by other people that are specifically designed to exploit people's values to gain political support. I don't even think that Bush understands the values of the average southerner, let alone us "pinko eastern liberals" up here in Cleveland. Behind all of his facades, the man is the ultimate paternalist with a blindfold on, but he will recite justabout whatever his writters put in front of him in the name of keeping such a position.
Also, something many of the liberals out there may not have noticed is the fact that Bush agrees with the necessity for all of the major social programs. He has constantly, and just did, get up at the podium and pledged total support for the welfare state. The only substantive disagreements the man has is the method of going about it, and he has a certain set of special interests that he favors more than others. In principle, he concedes to the economic status quo while simultanously trying to echo capitalistic rhetoric. In actual fact, the man supports virtually the entire apparatus of economic intervention programs, from welfare for farmers (otherwise known as farm subsidies), to nationalized medical care, to corporate contracting schemes (especially ones that have to do with the energy industry) to federal public education programs to foreign aid.
Even his plan to "privatize" social security would not have privatized it, it would have transfered it to a guild-like system of corporate contracting where the government decides for the citezen where and how to invest, while the corporations being invested in are like a paternalist middle man. The difference is between you voluntarily opening up a private account and, through governmental decree, a particular corporation paternalistically forcing you and wooing you to choose them ("you should open a private account" vs. "you should open a private account....hosted by my group over here"). The people on the left end of the political spectrum who honestly think that George Bush and the Republican Party are dedicated free market capitalists set out to abolish or at least greatly reduce social programs are living in a fantasy land.
Indeed, the Republican Party's dominant position on the minimum wage is as follows: yes, we should raise the minimum wage, but we will tie corporate handouts to small buisinesses to the legislation to make up for the negative effects. Technically, the Democratic Party's dominant position, which I disagree with in terms of the minimum wage, is better because it is as follows: yes, we should raise the minimum wage, but we will resist attempts to add corporate handouts to the bill. In actual fact, a very small handful of people in the legislative branch would dare to tarnish their public image by casting a vote of "nay" on wage-laws and "labor" legislation. Such legislation is specifically designed to pander to certain interests within society, and politicians become dependant on continueing that "promise" to those interests to obtain and keep their political careers (and thus, their income security).
Many conservatives outside of the "beltway" (A.K.A. the ivory tower) actually know that the minimum wage has a negative impact on buisinesses and workers alike. But instead of opposing the law many of them make it worse by supporting the tieing corporate welfare to it, while the vast majority of the liberals don't know the negative effects of the law, but are enthusiasts for it. However, there is also a class of "liberals" who support both the minimum wage and the corporate handouts, as a "bipartisan" move in conjunction with some of the conservatives, and likewise the conservatives who accept the minimum wage on the grounds of being able to compensate buisinesses are doing the same thing.
See what happens when you have bipartisanship under bad premises? You get the worst of both worlds. You get a double-dipping of the extreme agendas of both sides. From the Democrats, we get a taste of left-wing tyranny, and from the Republicans, we get a taste of right-wing tyranny. When combined, they are dangerously potent and pose the risk of constituting statism or dictatorship when accumulated over a long enough period of time. It is like a time-bomb. We tend to only look at the present, when one single measure signed into law can have effects that are radical when they fully come into effect in the future.
My diagnosis of the real state of the union is that we are currently on a course that leads us in the direction of totalitarian government, and that this is the result of a long series of cumulative expansions put in place over a long period of time by both political parties that stack ontop of eachother and overlap. Today we are experiencing the negative effects of questionable legislation that was passed decades ago, if not centuries. If we do not do something about it in the present and near-future, we face the inevitable prospect of collapse like Rome. We face the prospect of the current negative effects + new negative effects resulting from the exploits of the present. The result will not be pretty if people do not reclaim their rights. Unfortunately for us, the person who is currently in the whitehouse is more dedicated to continueing this slip into the abyss then anyone who has preceded him.