Speech, reaction to it show growing chasm

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

President Bush’s State of the Union Tuesday night touted his successes and outlined his agenda for the coming year. It was an election year address that seemed designed to defend his policies.

In many circles Bush’s speech was roundly praised, with fellow Republicans hailing his vigilance in the war on terrorism and his defense of the Patriot Act.

But negative reaction to the speech &045;&045; whether it was U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s disgruntled expression for TV cameras or the protesters who gathered outside a Bush event in Ohio on Wednesday &045;&045; shows the United States is still a deeply divided country politically.

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As we begin this election year, we can only see our nation becoming more polarized. Democrats vying for the party’s nomination have this week curbed their attacks on each other and begun going after Bush.

And the president, while his aides say he is not yet campaigning, left little room for compromise in his State of the Union and in speeches before and since.

This is necessary politics, we realize, particularly in an election year.

But it makes us wonder at what level we ever find common political ground.

The Congress that Bush addressed Tuesday night is controlled by Republicans, but not all of them necessarily plan to hand the president his agenda on a silver platter.

Bush proposed some programs that both sides of the aisle can agree upon: better health insurance for Americans, more funds for job training, continued vigilance against terrorism.

But the devil’s in the details.

Still, between the talk from both sides of the presidential race, we hope we can find some compromise ideologically and politically &045;&045; even as the chasm grows nationwide.