Monday, 22 July 2024

Thompson calls Bush's State of the Union address 'uninspiring'

President George W. Bush receives applause at the State of the Union Address Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, at the U.S. Capitol. Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are seen back right. White House photo by Eric Draper.

LAKE COUNTY – After listening to President George W. Bush's last State of the Union Address Monday night, Congressman Mike Thompson headed back to his office, riding in an elevator with some Republican colleagues.

The Democrat from St. Helena said the bipartisan consensus in the elevator ride up was that Bush's address was “one of the more, if not the most, lackluster State of the Union speeches that we had heard.”

In the hour-long Monday night address, the president outlined his goals for his final year in office. He touched on a wide variety of issues, from the economy and national security, the war in Iraq to education, energy and immigration, and his plan to “advance an agenda of compassion worldwide.”

But Thompson, speaking with reporters following the address, said Bush offered nothing new, and few actual details of how he planned to accomplish his ambitious set of plans.

On important issues like health care and the environment, Thompson said, “I don't think he left anybody with much hope or direction.”

Rather than focusing on green energy – geothermal, wind and solar – Bush is calling for more oil drilling, including a push to drill on the outer continental shelf, said Thompson. “These are things that don't lead to reducing our carbon imprint.”

Bush outlined many important issues, said Thompson, but offered no specifics. To address the country's major challenges, the congressman said it's going to take everyone working together.

He remained highly critical of Bush's strategy in Iraq, saying the surge isn't working, and pointed to the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers that same day.

Thompson said all of the major issues Bush addressed touched the First Congressional District, which includes Lake County.

He turned to immigration, one issue he and the president agree on. “I think he's been on the right track on immigration,” said Thompson, but he added that Bush hasn't done anything about it.

Last year the opportunity to push for immigration reform in Congress was “ripe” pun intended, said Thompson, referring to the pears left on county trees for lack of workers to harvest in recent years. Yet, nothing happened.

He said he would have loved to hear Bush say he would bring the troops home, but there again Thompson was disappointed.

The president promised greater support for returning veterans, including better health care for wounded service members.

Thompson, a Vietnam veteran, said that was the most “disingenuous” part of the president's speech. A regular visitor to the Walter Reed and Bethesda military hospitals, Thompson said he's seen firsthand the system's failure to help veterans.

He said that when Congress tried last year to give members of the military a 3.5-percent cost of living increase, Bush “fought that every inch of the way.”

There are a whole series of problems with returning vets, said Thompson – from a high number of suicides to brain injuries. “It's more horrendous than past wars.”

Thompson suggested that those problems could be handled, in part, by properly funding veterans facilities, but the president so far hasn't been willing to do that.

When reporters asked him who he's voting for in the presidential primary, Thompson was forthright in saying he chose Sen. Hillary Clinton.

However, he said of Clinton and her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, “I think either one of them would be a great president.”

Thompson said he chose Clinton because he's worked with her on issues important to the First District and Lake County. “She's strong on agriculture issues, she's strong on environmental issues and does a good job representing rural interests in her state.”

He added, “Those issues and understanding those issues are important in our district.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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