During the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Bush reiterated his typical platform. He offered no exit strategy for Iraq or realistic solutions to win the War on Terror. However, the Democratic response to the State of the Union speech also failed to offer an exit strategy for Iraq or provide new ideas.President Bush vowed to stay the course in Iraq and used his speech to attack his critics that have demanded an exit strategy. “There is no peace in retreat,” he said. “Second-guessing is not a strategy.”
During his speech, however, the president seemed to have no strategy for Iraq. He did not outline a timetable for withdrawal and he stated again that troops will stay in Iraq until the job is complete, a job that could take years.
The rest of the president’s speech was part of his typical agenda. He vowed to make tax cuts permanent, revamp Social Security and find alternative energy solutions, even though he has promised to break the country’s oil addiction before, but offered little action. Though the president’s State of the Union speech offered few, if any, fresh ideas, the Democratic Party’s rebuttal, which was given by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, did not offer many new ideas, either.
The slogan of Gov. Kaine’s speech was “there is a better way” to govern. However, through his speech, Gov. Kaine offered more criticism than ideas, especially concerning the War on Terror.
On Iraq, the Virginia governor criticized the administration for providing troops with inadequate body armor, which is a just and important criticism. However, like the president, he offered no timetable for withdrawal.
Instead of choosing to endorse Democratic Rep. Murtha’s plan to withdraw troops in six months, the governor was hesitant to speculate on when the troops could be brought home.
As support for the war continues to wane, Democrats need to offer an exit strategy, since the Bush administration is not going to. Democrats should also go a step further and demand an investigation into the scandals surrounding the Iraq war, including the false WMD evidence, the lack of body armor for troops and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Democrats can not just criticize. They must hold the members of the administration accountable for their devastating actions.
To win seats in the Senate and House during the 2006 mid-term elections, Democrats must offer a contrast to the Bush administration. Constant criticism will not suffice or earn trust of the voters. After a war based on false evidence, a botched response to Hurricane Katrina and other scandals, the country is hungry for change, but merely being an opposition party is not enough.
Brian Fanelli is a senior majoring in comparative literature with minors in creative writing and journalism.