As the reviews of the President’s SOTU speech come in, a clear distinction is being drawn between the political points he scored against foolish Democrats and the alarmingly unconservative substance of his some of his remarks. Three years ago Bush was haunted by the “16 words” included in his address about Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium in Africa. This time five little words may come back to haunt him: “America is addicted to oil.”
When a President suggests that his own country is afflicted with a moral or genetic flaw, he’s basically pointing the finger of blame at the citizenry. Jimmy Carter tried that in his famous “malaise” speech, and look where it got him. Will the “addicted” comment go down as Bush’s “malaise” moment?
Of course all the usual suspects are now free to revive the old nostrums. My favorite response so far is the lead letter in today’s New York Times correspondence section, especially this:
Mr. President, the only alternative is an efficient mass transit system in every town in the United States.
What we need is a Manhattan Project to develop rail, bus, trolley, light rail and all variations of mass transit that get us away from the one-person-one-car habit forced upon the American public for the last five decades, the real cause of addiction to foreign oil.
The writer in question must be a deeply unhappy individual, forced as he is to reside iin the one-person-one-car town of Pismo Beach, California, a lovely place famous for its long, long pier that stretches halfway to Hawaii — with no mass transit in sight.