An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The State of the Presidency

The Washington Post’s commentary today on the State of the Union and Maryland’s budget mess are worth a few minutes of your time. Richard Cohen lets President Bush have it on the chin, not necessarily for the contentious 16 words in last year’s speech, but for continuing to mislead America:

“But this year's State of the Union address, while not quite a lie, was clearly deceptive. I didn't feel Bush had an obligation to tick off everything that had gone wrong about Iraq, but I didn't expect him to pretend that somehow the WMD allegations had been substantiated. He cited the report of chief weapons inspector David Kay as if it vindicated the original charges, when in fact it did not. And then, in a rhetorical sleight of hand, he talked as if the aim of the war had been simply to remove a thug from office -- when that was always supposed to be a byproduct. The trouble is that just about everything Bush said a year ago has turned out not to be true.”

An editorial, entitled Mortgaging Maryland, flames the Governor for his lack of honesty and unwillingness to make the leadership decisions really necessary to deal with the state budget

“On Paper, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s budget for the coming fiscal year looks balanced -- if you disregard the gubernatorial thumb on the revenue side of the scale. Again as last year, the Republican governor has tatted up a flimsy doily of a budget, using what must be the last of the fiscal patches left: one-time windfalls, raids on various state accounts -- many of them meant for distribution to local governments for transportation projects and other services -- and a batch of fees that he won't call taxes. The idea is to scrape through one more time without facing up to the inevitability of tax increases to pay the bills and cover the debts that are adding up.”

And if you have a few minutes, check out this piece by Joe Velasquez & Steve Cobble in the Nation from last month that argues that Democrats should abandon the idea of a southern strategy, arguing that:

“Mobilizing the fast-rising Southwestern Latino population around the same progressive economic issues that can also unite poor whites and African-Americans is the ticket to ride in 2004. Even better, given the explosive growth rates for Latinos in the Old South--not just in Texas and Florida but also in states like Georgia and North Carolina--adding these new Latino votes to the strong existing African-American base there will transform American politics.”