The BEST speech of Bush’s life?

The New York Times opined yesterday that on the day before, "George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life …"

The speech was apparently the president’s attempt to empathize about the devastation wrought by Katrina, and the NYT reckoned it to be lame. Perhaps they were right. I don’t know, I neither read nor heard the address in question. Until now, that is. And I’m still not sure that it impresses me much either way.

But on the very day the Times delivered that judgment, Mr. Bush committed another public utterance that was nothing short of wonderful — nay, miraculous, considering the source. It’s Bushesclinton_1 something I’ve waited for an American president to say ever since World War II. Or rather, since 1953, since I wasn’t around eight years before that. OK, so I’ve mostly been waiting for an American president to say it since Sept. 11, 2001, but considering who the president was during the intervening period, I did not have high expectations. In fact, it’s doubtful that any U.S. president since Jimmy Carter would have responded in this fashion under similar circumstances, and maybe not even him. Certainly not Bill Clinton. He would have delivered a Katrina speech that would have knocked the Times‘ editorial socks off, because empathy was his specialty. But the guy who dipped into the strategic oil reserve to help Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore get elected despite rising gas prices probably wouldn’t have said this either.

So what did he say? I suppose this has been enough buildup, although it really was great. He said, and I am not making this up:

"Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it."

It was indeed, as The Washington Post noted today (in a news story, mind you, not an opinion piece), "a rare request for individual sacrifice." But it was all the sweeter for its rarity. And if you don’t believe it, you can listen to it if you’d like.

This gives me hope; it really does. If President George W. Bush can say that (and in fairness I’ll say he’s given a number of speeches since 9/11 in which he said many things that were just what a leader in wartime should say, with the huge exception that he has never asked us to sacrifice before), then isn’t that like the breaking of a levee? Could we not be about to see a flood of common sense about fossil fuels break out of its long imprisonment and wash across the land, cleansing us of our collective madness?

I mean, if he can say that, could we not see some serious CAFE standards soon? Could we treat Hummers in the same sensible fashion that we do fully automatic assault rifles, and ban them for all but military use? Could we — and forgive me, but I’m getting a little verklempt at the very thought — actually have ration books, the way we did the last time we were really serious about winning a war?

In other words, could we act like we really understand the strategic imperatives of our situation in the world? Could we do everything necessary to make ourselves independent of the regimes that finance the people who want to kill us all? I mean drill in Alaska, rebuild those rigs in the Gulf, conserve like crazy, ostracize fellow citizens who waste energy, build nuclear power plants, and kick efforts to develop the hydrogen economy into high gear.

OK, OK, I’m getting a little carried away, I know. But it really was great to hear him say it. That’s all I’m saying.

8 thoughts on “The BEST speech of Bush’s life?

  1. David

    Brad, 9 refineries are shut down in the gulf. 60% of the rigs are down. Yes, this is a crisis and the impact on trucking, air travel, and private travel will get worse soon. But, some of this is self imposed. Not a single refinery built in the US for about 30 years, no new nuke plants brought online for who knows how long. In a growing country with the world’s largest economy, one would have to ask why have we sat on our thumbs during this period? Yet, if the governor proposed using the former Charleston Navy base for a new refinery, who would lead the charge to obstruct that project. A project that would bring thousands of new jobs to the state economy. The answer is obvious. The environmentalists. And they have support in many of the courts and lots of money to file lawsuits for the next ten years. Slowly, very incrementally, I see some sanity returning to this nation’s energy policies. Anwar has been opened and testing off the Florida coast has been authorized. Leftist, socialist democrats have lost their control of the the US Congress and soon the courts. There is hope for us.

  2. Brad Warthen

    David, you’ve got half the picture — or perhaps I should say, a third of it.
    — As I said in my posting, we need to drill in the ANWR, rebuild the Gulf oil rigs and build new refineries. And not because I don’t care about the environment, but because we’re at war, and I think we can do these things and still protect the environment. Nuclear plants, for instance, are a whole lot cleaner than coal-fired.
    — But we also need to act to curtail the outrageously wasteful habits here on the home front that are working against us in the War on Terror — driving SUVs (and not out on the tundra, and not to carry a soccer team, but most often for one person to drive to work on perfectly good streets); refusing to demand the same fuel efficiency of light trucks that we require of sedans; and cheap gas. This increase in gas prices is helpful on this front, but we need to make it permanent — or make it higher, if that’s what it takes for habits to change — through an increase in the federal gas tax. Why is all this necessary? Because there isn’t enough oil in the ANWR and off our coasts to replace what we get from the Mideast — conservation MUST go hand-in-hand with increased capacity production. And before you get the idea this is some leftist scheme, I’m borrowing the idea from Charles Krauthammer. I would use the proceeds to finance the war on terror, reduce the deficit and most of all, implement point three:
    — Use every penny and every billion we can scrape together to convert toward a hydrogen economy, while exploring other alternative fuels. Producing and conserving is only a short-term solution. We need to develop new fuels for our economy to remain healthy into the future.
    Oh, and as a postscript: Actually, the greatest resistance to a refinery in Charleston would not be environmentalists, although certainly they would weigh in. The greatest resistance would come from the millionaires who have bought up all the houses in the peninsula, and who don’t want anything disturbing their quaint, picturesque lives — certainly not commercial or industrial activity. As I recall, those were the main opponents of developing the much-needed new terminal for the port a couple of years back.

  3. David

    Brad, You have joined a growing list of doom sayers dating back to when oil was first discovered in Oil City (aka Titusville), PA. Pundits then were claiming that there was only a limited amount of this precious goo so enjoy it while it lasted. You said above “Because there isn’t enough oil in the ANWR and off our coasts to replace what we get from the Mideast…… ”
    Now, catch this article from the Seattle Times, Thursday. This is just a portion so I don’t violate copyright law.
    Study reveals huge U.S. oil-shale field
    By Jennifer Talhelm
    The Associated Press
    E-mail article
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    WASHINGTON — The United States has an oil reserve at least three times that of Saudi Arabia locked in oil-shale deposits beneath federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to a study released yesterday.
    But the researchers at the RAND think tank caution the federal government to go carefully, balancing the environmental and economic impacts with development pressure to prevent an oil-shale bust later.
    “We’ve got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle East,” said James Bartis, RAND senior policy researcher and the report’s lead author. He added, “If we go faster, there’s a good chance we’re going to end up at a dead end.”
    For years, the industry and the government considered oil shale — a rock that produces petroleum when heated — too expensive to be a feasible source of oil.
    However, oil prices, which spiked above $70 a barrel this week, combined with advances in technology could soon make it possible to tap the estimated 500 billion to 1.1 trillion recoverable barrels, the report found.
    The study, sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, comes about a month after the president signed a new energy policy dramatically reversing the nation’s approach to oil shale and opening the door within a few years to companies that want to tap deposits on public lands.
    Back to me again. Contrary to mainstream media thinking, much of the earth hasn’t been truly explored for oil yet. And, as technology like laser drilling develops, we will be able to go deeper into the earth’s surface to find more deposits. I am not pontificating on this but one of my sons is a geologist with one of the big oil outfits. I value his opinion considerably.
    I do agree with you on the opposition to a new refinery near the Charleston area by the monied elites. But, millionaires have estates in Galveston TX near the nastiest refineries around. So, look out N. Charleston!!!! Anyway, I like your blog and I am surprised a few more people don’t partake in it. Hopefully you will keep blogging away and more will join. Now, time to cheer for the Tigers and forget about Katrina, gasoline, and all the ills of the world.

  4. Bill

    “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”
    I think that you mistake stupidity for profoundness. What a lame statement. It just goes to show how low you’ve been willing to lower your standards since George Bush has been inflicted on the nation.
    “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”
    How many Americans could hoard gas even if they wanted to? At these prices that’s like advising us not to buy diamonds if we don’t need them.
    “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”
    Another idiotic Bush classic that you mistake for some wonderful insight.
    The whole corrupt Bush presidency is like some tragic Monty Python black comedy. Next you’ll be citing Python’s writers as the new Shakespeares.
    “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”
    You’re correct on one point. It’s a rare, but suitably disguised, call for “sacrifice” by a president who insists that we can have everything: tax cuts, spiraling deficits, prosperity, optional wars of aggression, national security with incompetent Homeland Security executives, and billions of dollars of corporate welfare for his investors.
    What a laugh. Read up on the first oil crisis. We instituted a windfall profits tax so that the oil companies didn’t reap outrageous profits while putting the nation in the poor house.
    With Bush and Cheney in charge the White House is little better than a subsidiary of Halliburton and the oil companies.
    If this administration really wanted national security then we’d mount an Apollo-style project for energy independence. Despite what the poster above imagines, we won’t drill our way to energy independence.

  5. Brad Warthen

    I guess you weren’t around during last week’s panic, which saw long lines of SUVs and such waiting to “top off” their tanks at any station that still had petrol. If you think all of those people were all suddenly out of fuel (in other words, in NEED) at the same time, you have a greater belief in coincidences than I do.
    “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it” is actually a nice, shorthand way of expressing the idea behind rationing in WWII — an idea that flies right in the face of Reaganism. In fact, there is a statement of principle on the back of an old coupon book my parents have that was similar in its thrust. I don’t recall the precise wording (I need to see if they still have it, so I can write something quoting it), but it was something along the lines of, If you use more than your share, you’re hurting your country.
    Thanks for reminding me that I need to go find that.

  6. David

    Bill, your posting is a hoot. It is rare to see someone so wrong on so many points at one time. I don’t know what economy you are talking about but the deficit is spiraling, but downward, employment is robust, taxes moderated, we are winning the War on Terror, and so on. You also claim W was inflicted on the nation. The last time I checked he won by a nice 3 to 4 million vote margin. It must be pure h-ll to be a Bush hating liberal. But at least you are humorous.

  7. Bill

    Brad, do you seriously think that putting off filling up your SUV’s tank by a day or two (we’re talking vehicles that may get a little as 8-10 mpg) will seriously have the teeniest effect on gas shortages?
    “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it”
    I’d laugh if it didn’t signify how out of touch our President is with reality. (Kinda like his Dad who marveled at a grocery store check out scanner.)
    “Need?” How many people really need a Hummer? It’s the Bush philosophy that if you can afford the insurance, loan payments and cost of gas then you’re entitled to drive a Hummer. In the Bush worldview individual responsibility begins and ends with our individual bank accounts.
    Unfortunately the nation’s oil addiction makes us all hostages to the dictates of corrupt, fundamentalist tribes only a generation removed from the middle ages.
    “Need?” If every red-blooded American can’t drive their SUV wherever and whenever they please then, well, the terrorists have already won!
    Which leads me to the question that’s on the lips of every True American (and, by that, I mean the 51% who crowned Bush inerrant emperor). Patriotic Americans ™ are wondering “Why do you hate America and want the terrorists to win?” Could you be one of the socialist menace who’re insidiously trying to substitute “need” instead of “want” and “ability to pay?” Didn’t Marx say “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
    Very suspicious, indeed.

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