Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union

Here’s to the state of the union! As we watched the president last night, the adults in the household played a small drinking game. We began the evening with a glass of wine and a commitment to watch as long as the glass lasted, taking a sip each time Mr. Bush said some version of these words: terror, security, freedom or democracy. We didn’t last long!
But we did last long enough to notice the rhetorical trope the president employed throughout the speech: “trust and empower” – as in “we must trust in the ability of free people to make wise decisions, and empower them to improve their lives and their futures.”
The president spoke often of trusting and empowering, and were it not for his evangelical Christian brand of conservatism one might have imagined that he had morphed into a libertarian with his focus on an idea of individual liberty that is opposed to any sense of corporate responsibility or commonwealth.
Whatever you think about various brands of conservatism, this picture of liberty lacks depth and focus when measured against background images that must include domestic wiretaps, Patriot Acts and waterboards.
Perhaps this time next year the state of the union will include a more creative mix balance of liberty and responsibility, of individual and community. I’d drink to that.

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