In the aftermath of Bush's SOTU speech there have been an increasing number of surprises coming from both the left and the right side of the aisle. Many Democrats found Tim Kaine's response too low key and lacking political "red meat" and probably would have preferred someone more like Rep. Charles Rangel.
Recently Rangel was asked his impression of Bush in a Public Television interview, "Well," Rangel said. "I really think that he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all; it shows that, in this great country, anybody can become president."
But as the Washington Post noted, Kaine's job was about as tough as it gets given the President's characterization attacks on Democrats as "obstructionists" and did acknowledge that he was effective:
"Kaine faced an impossible job: Be respectful of the president, cognizant of the essential optimism of the modern-day State of the Union form, yet present a distinctive alternative. The governor, standing in front of a fireplace in the Executive Mansion in Richmond, kept promising that the Dems have "a better way," but only rarely did he say what that way is, other than a vague utopia in which both sides work together.
So it was with great surprise that the response to the President's speech and policies that was the most concise, erudite, and devastatingly accurate should come not from a Democrat, but from archconservative Pat Buchanan.
Buchanan's response to Bush's SOTU address in "The Conservative Voice" opens by addressing Bush's new theme on Isolationism:
"American leaders from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan rejected isolation and retreat."
"Why would a president use his State of the Union to lash out at a school of foreign policy thought that has had zero influence in his administration? The answer is a simple one, but it is not an easy one for Bush to face: His foreign policy is visibly failing, and his critics have been proven right."
Like some crazed conservative "Yosemite Sam" Buchanan goes after Bush with both guns blazin':
"Having plunged us into an unnecessary war, Bush now confronts the real possibility of strategic defeat and a failed presidency. His victory in Iraq, like the wars of Wilson and FDR, has turned to ashes in our mouths. And like Truman's war in Korea and Kennedy's war in Vietnam, Bush's war has left America divided and her people regretting he ever led us in. But unlike the world wars, Korea and Vietnam, Bush cannot claim the enemy attacked us and we had no choice. Iraq is Bush's war. Isolationists had nothing to do with it. To a man and woman, they opposed it.
Now, with an army bogged down in Afghanistan and another slowly exiting Iraq, and no end in sight to either, Bush seeks to counter critics who warned him not to go in by associating them with the demonized and supposedly discredited patriots of the America First movement of 1940-41. His assault is not only non-credible, it borders on the desperate and pathetic."
In his speech, Bush continued to echo his theme of the "War on Terror" and his forever-over-done 9/11... 9/11... 9/11 trump card and even invoked the name of his favorite boogeyman, Osama Bin Laden, in an attempt to rally Americans to his cause of spreading democracy by force of arms. Buchanan would have none of it either:
"By allowing radical Islam to work its will, by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself, we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals or even in our own courage," said Bush.
But what has done more to radicalize Islam than our invasion of Iraq? Who has done more to empower Islamic radicals than Bush with his clamor for elections across a region radicalized by our own policies? It is one thing to believe in ideals, another to be the prisoner of some democratist ideology.
Bush has come to believe that the absence of democracy is the cause of terror and democracy its cure. But the cause of terror in the Middle East is the perception there that those nations are held in colonial captivity by Americans and their puppet regimes, and that the only way to expel both is to use tactics that have succeeded from Algeria in 1962 to Anbar province in 2005."
Bush's SOTU speech theme against isolationism also had an "economic rider" of "anti-protectionism" as well. He lauded his "free trade" agenda and job creation, but again Buchanan keeps firing back at him:
With opposition also rising to his free-trade policy, Bush reverted to the same tactic: Caricature and castigate critics of his own failed policies. "Protectionists," said Bush, pretend "we can keep our high standards of living, while walling off our economy."
But it was protectionists from Lincoln to Coolidge who gave us the highest standard of living on earth. And the record of Bush's merry band of free-traders? The largest trade deficits in history, a $200 billion trade surplus for Beijing at our expense in 2005, and 3 million lost manufacturing jobs since Bush first took the oath.
If America is angry over what interventionism and free trade have wrought, George Bush cannot credibly blame isolationists or protectionists. These fellows have an alibi. They were nowhere near the scene of the crime.
It is George W. Bush who is running out of alibis.
Now this is a far cry from the Buchanan I see on the talk show circuit ardently defending the Republican party and the administration! But there are increasing signs that this is a trend and not an isolated event.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran an article, "Political opposites aligned against Bush wiretaps", noting that two political adversaries Larry Diamond and Grover Norquist had joined in condemnation of Bush's NSA wiretapping program:
"Grover Norquist is one of the most influential conservative Republicans in Washington. His weekly "Wednesday Meeting" at his L Street office is a must for conservative strategists, and he has been called the "managing director of the hard-core right" by the liberal Nation magazine. Perhaps the country's leading anti-tax enthusiast, he is, like Diamond, a hawk in the war on terror.
Despite coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum, they agree on one other major issue: that the Bush administration's program of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency without obtaining court warrants has less to do with the war on terror than with threats to the nation's civil liberties.
"My view on the terrorists is that we should find all of them and kill them," said Norquist. "But we should also protect our civil liberties, which the terrorists are trying to destroy.""
The "libertarian" wing of the Republican party has been bristling at Bush's moves for some time as SOJ's excellent diary "Republicans Called Bush a Dictator King in 2001" pointed out
But Norquist is not of that stripe and many conservatives across the political spectrum are now outraged by Bush's contempt for the "rule of law" displayed in the hearings regarding the NSA program.
Conservatives and Liberals will never see eye-to-eye on most things, but perhaps Governor Kaine's message of Republicans and Democrats working together to "find a better way" is accurate and that better way maybe to get rid of George Bush!