Kenny Martin: In a speech that had everything from poor jokes about the elderly to homoerotic gestures towards Supreme Court Justices (coming soon: Bush and Breyer sex scandal), President George W. Bush focused heavily on the domestic agenda for his second term.

He outlined more details about his vision for social security reform and referenced previous reform proposals made by Democrats. I don’t understand how the Dems, the “party of the people,” can propose to solve the problem of social security by increasing the tax burden on working Americans yet reducing the number of people eligible for benefits.

Just for kicks, I decided to listen in on the Democratic response to the State of the Union, partly because I wanted to see Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in action for the first time, but mainly because I never miss an opportunity to see Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) make a fool of herself.

I have nothing but respect for Reid, but I think he’s still shell-shocked over the resounding beat-down that was handed to his party. Looks like the Democrats have more in common with Colts fans than I thought.

Judging from his comments, he’s not sure what country he’s living in. Reid pointed out that Bush should enact a “Marshall Plan for America to build the infrastructure our economy needs.”

I’m not sure what country Reid thinks he’s living in, but America’s infrastructure is light-years ahead of the entire world combined, largely due to the pro-business policies of both the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Abed Z. Bhuyan: Despite Bush’s gutsy move to tackle an issue that Republicans have been afraid of for years, overhauling a very successful social system that has existed for 80 years is easier said than done. Though he proposes a bold agenda, this issue is one that unlike Iraq, the president will have to fight in his own backyard.

Although the President doesn’t have to worry about reelection, House and Senate Republicans do and will not be so willing to back the President’s plan. In the very little time these politicians have to actually govern, the president has a tough sell ahead of him.

Democrats need to point out that the proposal itself is flawed. The president forgets to point out that moving Social Security to a privatized system could cost as much as $2 trillion. Democrats need to be as determined as the president and demonstrate that Social Security is not in crisis.

Although the president used the word “security” ten times in his speech, he failed to mention that privatization creates anything but security and opens the system to undue risk. I hope Bush is genuinely putting everything on the table, including raising the retirement age, rather than continuing the scare tactics which only weaken his case.

Abed: The centerpiece of this term’s foreign policy is spreading freedom around the world. I was happily surprised when Bush challenged Saudi Arabia and Egypt to democratize.

Maybe he finally realized that it is not with American occupation and subsequent reform but rather with legitimate internal democratization that the gap between the Muslim world and the West can be bridged.

There is a progressive, reform-minded movement in the Middle East that already hopes for American success in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iran, moderates pray that such victories might pressure the theocracy to limit its suppression of free speech. Democratically-elected leaders in Turkey also have more legitimacy from the ballot and are not intimidated by extremists.

But my realism quickly quelled my idealism. Saudi-American interdependence lies in Saudi Arabia’s strategic significance in delivering oil to the United States.

Egypt’s willingness to cooperate in the Middle East peace process and its closeness to the oil-producing Gulf gives it special importance in the scheme of American foreign policy. I question if the President will continue to pressure American allies like Egypt for reform or if this “freedom spreading” was just a one-line wonder. America must also reengage itself in the peace process and demonstrate that it will hold both Israelis and Palestinians equally accountable for their actions.

And any pledge to bring freedom and democracy to every corner of the world includes bringing it to Cuba, China and Florida. Can all this be done while containing the threats of North Korea, Syria and Iran?

Kenny: President Bush has made clear that spreading democracy is critical to America’s security. I find it funny how Democrats are all for spreading freedom as long as they don’t have to do anything or pay for it. The chances that internal forces would have been able to democratize Iraq are about the same as Dennis Kucinich being elected president.

Saddam Hussein brutalized his people for years and funded Palestinian suicide bombers yet Democrats seem to think he was not a threat to the United States and that Hussein was going to live out his days peacefully. It’s now clear that Democrats get their foreign policy advice from Barbara Streisand.

Since when did the Democrats become the party opposing the spread of human rights and liberalization? In an act of defiance against the Democratic Party, several people present at the State of the Union speech gave the Democrats the finger – the Iraqi finger that is (Iraqis who voted proudly displayed their finger, which was inked to avoid double voting).

Without a doubt, Bush’s goal to promote democracy is ideally achieved via internal pressure, not war. Liberals need to be less naive about this strategy when force becomes the last resort.

Kenny: My colleague mentioned that Social Security has been successful for 80 years and is not currently in crisis. That’s like saying the New England Patriots are losing key people right and left, but since they’ve won back to back Superbowls they shouldn’t be worried about replacing players.

Social Security is going to pay out roughly $500 billion this year. That’s 4.2 percent of GDP – compared to the deficit which is only 3.6 percent of GDP – and almost as much as George Soros paid to John Kerry this year. With retirees living longer, Social Security costs will continue to rise exponentially. Social Security is in everyone’s best interest; Democrats just don’t want to admit that Republicans have the best solution.

In accordance with his strong moral values, Bush took the opportunity to reiterate his commitment to building a culture of life and promoting social welfare through faith and community-based initiatives rather than through government bureaucracy.

More notably, Bush again condemned activist judges who are perverting the will of the people. Judicial interpretation has its place, but it has clearly overstepped its bounds regarding homosexual marriage.

Although I don’t support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the fact that a ban on gay marriage passed by a landslide in all of the eleven states where it was a ballot item should speak for itself. America isn’t ready for it, and judges shouldn’t tell us when we are.

Abed: The thing I love about today’s Republicans is that they seem to pride themselves on 10-word fortune cookie answers to difficult questions. Perhaps it’s too difficult for them to think about the next 10 words.

President Bush built his Iraq war case around weapons of mass destruction. Do you think that he, Congress or the American people would have supported a war to liberate Iraq? No. That is why Bush didn’t build his case around democracy. Nor did he build it around humanitarian causes; even Bush recognized that there were more pressing crises in the world in March 2003.

Democrats want freedom as much as the next guy, even if he is George W. Bush, but they are justified in their criticism of him. Excuse us for not asking the president “how high?” when he tells us to jump.

The Iraqi election is a step in the right direction, but it does not bring back the over 1,450 dead American soldiers or lessen the financial, emotional and military burden placed on the American people.

TIME magazine labeled President Bush an “American Revolutionary.” Scary, but true. The President took this country into war on an unjustified premise and struck down any international legitimacy the United States may have had. His close group of advisors deify his every word. His administration’s accomplishments are many. It has bashed gays, stunted scientific research, authorized torture, broken international treaties and alliances and taken away civil liberties.

Yep, that’s pretty revolutionary.

Kenny Martin is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business and Abed Z. Bhuyan is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.

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