Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bookman in AJC: Bush has lost America's confidence

Jay Bookman's AJC column today is worth reading:

President Bush has forfeited the faith of the American people, and judging from his language Tuesday night, he knows it.

In his 2006 State of the Union speech, the president felt it necessary to warn us against "economic retreat," against retreating "from our duties in the hope of easier life."

"There is no peace in retreat," the president said, "and there is no honor in retreat." He warned against "abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders," promising that "the United States will not retreat from the world."

"Never give in to the belief that America is in decline," he begged his fellow citizens, "or that our culture is doomed to unravel."

Retreat. Decline. Retreat. . . . The White House had advertised the speech as optimistic, but its unconscious recurring theme, its underlying tone, proved to be anything but.

The president's language did, however, reflect the nation's mood. For months, almost two-thirds of Americans have been telling pollsters that the country was headed in the wrong direction. Almost two-thirds say the economy is fair or poor, despite the fact that by many standard measures it's doing pretty well. And while President Bush says we're winning in Iraq, 60 percent disapprove of how he has handled that critically important challenge.

Some might interpret those numbers to mean that the American people are losing faith in this country --- that's clearly the president's fear, for example. But I think that's wrong. We have lost faith in our leadership, which is a very different thing.


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