Saturday, February 05, 2005

Religious Right Officially Thrown a Bone

If you are a member of one of the lobbies making up the Christian Right (or if you were one of the now-infamous “values voters” in November’s election), you eagerly anticipated about 9% of Wednesday night’s State of the Union address, which addressed issues like abortion, stem cell research, and “activist judges”.

And if you are a supporter of the Arlington Group, which rallied support for the president based on his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, you sat on the edge of your sofa awaiting just 38 words of the entire speech:

Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

For those of you who cast your votes solely because of the gay marriage issue and Mr Bush’s pre-election promise to “protect the institution of marriage”, this was your reward. The president dedicated less than 1% of his speech to letting you know that he agrees with you. This was not a war cry; this was not a call to action; this wasn’t even a promise for future action. All you got was a simple statement that he agrees with you.

Contrast Mr Bush’s statement above with the following:

To make our economy stronger and more dynamic, we must prepare a rising generation to fill the jobs of the 21st century. [No Child Left Behind]

To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. [Regulation & Legal Reform]

To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make health care more affordable, and give families greater access to good coverage -- -- and more control over their health decisions. [Health Care Agenda]

The same-sex marriage issue didn’t even merit a “must” in the president’s speech. All he said was that he personally supports a constitutional amendment. He didn’t call for an amendment, and he certainly didn’t say that we must have one. But all this pales in comparison to the attention dedicated to the two issues that truly dominated Mr Bush’s speech.

Almost 45% of the president’s speech was dedicated to Iraq & the War on Terror: “To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder.” These were the president’s signature issues during his re-election campaign, and he worked tirelessly during his first term to build support at home and abroad for his war in Iraq. As a result of his efforts, a significant portion of our budget and our military are dedicated to the Middle East for the foreseeable future.

About 22% of the president’s speech was spent championing private accounts for Social Security, telling us that “we must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all”. Immediately following his speech, Mr Bush launched a 2-day, five-state campaign targeting red states with Democratic senators in order to garner support for his Social Security agenda. This, my friends, is where the president will spend his “political capital” before entering the lame duck phase of his second term.

So if you cast your vote for Mr Bush based on your support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, I hope 38 words of a State of the Union address are a sufficient reward for your loyalty to the GOP.