President Bush in his State of the Union speech, strongly outlined his vision and goals for the coming year. Yet it was clouded by the baggage of a year in which questions of competence as far as the rationale and prosecution of the war in Iraq, response to the natural disasters, ability to control spending and to conduct the business of government with the highly vaunted values that the party promulgates.
Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, the newly elected governor, was an odd choice as someone in office for only several weeks. It revealed the paucity of options a riven and contentious Democrat Party has in putting forth an coherent vison and agenda which has been promised for weeks by party leadership. Kaine spoke on the themes of competence, pointing to a state noted as the best managed and to the bipartisan spirit that got it to that point. Yet in the era of terror, it will be difficult for any governor to prove he or she has the national security chops - as it even would have been for President Bush if he had first run in a post September 11th era. Both Bush and Kaine push strong values and strong economies - one by tax cuts and the other by balanced budgets. However all of this is in the context of a global economy and world and it is choice of the electorate between a change for the future or more of the same in this year's Congressional elections. Perhaps the best hopes will come at the grass roots levels where both competence and vision can swell to the surface. With the Democrats wanting a lot of big government and the Republicans providing lots of big government the answers may lay outside of the Beltway. Clearly Katrina showed that neither party was adept at providing protection for its citizens and makes one concerned to think that would happen in another, more massive emergency. Vision, values and competence - the Holy Grail for the American people in their leaders.