War talk

January 30, 1991

It was inevitable that President Bush's state of the union message last night would be dominated by war talk. But the plain truth is, if there weren't a war going on in the Persian Gulf, the president would have had precious little to talk about. The reason: Simply that Bush has no domestic policy for the United States.

"Our cause is just. Our cause is moral. Our cause is right," the president said of the war. But aren't there "just, moral and right" causes here at home as well?

Where, for instance, were concrete proposals for a national education policy that the president promised when he met with the nation's governors in Charlottesville, Va., in 1989?

Where were any proposals at all on how to deal with the needs of 34 million Americans, most of them the working poor, who have no health insurance and can get medical care only after they fall officially into the underclass of poverty?

Where were proposals to resolve the internal conflict within the administration over an energy policy which might some day diminish our growing dependence on foreign oil, half of which is now imported?

Where were the proposals to care for the millions of people who are now infected with the AIDS virus and who eventually will develop the disease?

Where were the concrete proposals for dealing with the obdurate problem of homelessness in America?

Where were the proposals for rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure of roads, bridges, water systems?

Don't these needs of America carry at least as much weight as the goal of "restoring the legitimate government of Kuwait?"

We are now spending, by common estimate, a billion dollars a day to fight a war in the Persian Gulf which does not even have clearly defined objectives, and the president does not even propose a way to pay the cost of that war. Yes, there were ringing declarations about our brave men and women who are fighting the war, and how we must support them. Nobody disagrees with that. But what was sadly lacking in President Bush's speech was the slightest vision of what kind of America he proposes for those young men and women to return to.

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