- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2001

Noble: President George W. Bush, for his outstanding speech to the Congress. Mr. Bush began his speech by acknowledging that the last time he visited the Capitol, many Democrats were losing their heads over the election, and blaming him for it. Yet Mr. Bush refused to give in to lies and hatred in his speech. Instead, he gave a self-depreciating, honest presentation.

While knowing that knaves would twist his words, Mr. Bush spoke of his dreams for the nation and his aims for its citizens his hope that the triumphs of our surplus and super-power status would stave off potential disasters and that the tool of tax relief would both build productivity and support compassion.

Mr. Bush asked each individual to apply their hearts and nerves and sinews to the noble duties of citizenship. He promised to work with Congress towards the common goal of service to the country. That good should be the goal of all Americans.

Knaves: Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, for their dismal response.

Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Daschle both appear to have aced the Al Gore school of public speaking, since their response was a delightful disaster in its presentation, its preachiness, and its nearly negative persuasive value. Both men seemed to be in the throes of a casting for another campaign commercial, since it seemed like a phone could ring at any moment during their presentation, with Joe Lieberman on the line. Of course, "casting" might be a bit unfair, since casts tend to show at least a few more signs of life.

Life also tends to be less cruel, and at least a little more rational. Both men claimed that education would be hurt by Mr. Bush's plan, despite its provision of $5 billion in increased funding to help children learn to read. Mr. Daschle claimed that Bush's 10-year budget forecast is "No more reliable than a 10-year weather forecast," which should make it as reliable as the Democratic plan, which forecasts $800 billion in tax cuts through 2011. The Democrats also claimed that Mr. Bush's tax-cuts would threaten Social Security and Medicare, and in a stunning rhetorical surprise which surely stopped presses around the world, Mr. Daschle claimed that Mr. Bush's plan favored the rich.

Perhaps Mr. Daschle and Mr. Gephardt are right in that they, at least, will face apocalyptic consequences if taxpayers receive a Bush-based tax rebate. After all, political power begins, and ends, at the pocketbook.

It can only be hoped that the political pursuits of Mr. Daschle and Mr. Gephardt will remain as lame as their persuasive abilities.

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