President Bush held his first press conference of his second term tonight to mainly address social security and energy policy, which I posted about earlier today. That being said, here's my immediate reactions-
What I liked
Graduated social security: Bush talked about a means based social security program, which I think is a good partial solution to the solvency problem. I found it really refreshing for the President to back a policy which benefits the poor at the expense of the rich.
Backing off on faith in politics: Faith is a personal matter, what a revolutionary concept for the Republicans. This really caught me off guard. I would venture this is a response to the whole Terri Schiavo backlash (an attempt to distance himself from Congressional Republicans).
North Korea: I liked Bush's apparent endorsement of multilateralism in dealing with North Korea. His support of the six-party talks shows that he at least sometimes can come through on his campaign promise to be more of an internationalist this term.
Red, white and blue suit: Nice touch. Very Patriotism meets GQ
What I didn't like
Discussion of public opinion: One reporter asked Bush what his response was to tepid public support for his social security reform. He replied (I'm paraphrasing) that his job was to do what's best for America regardless of what the public thinks. I feel this is a grave misunderstanding on his part of how to solve future social security insolvency. It's ultimately up to Congress to legislate on social security and congressmen, unlike him, must be very responsive to their constituents to win re-election. Hence, no support from public= no support from Congress.
Personal investment accounts: Bush did very little to support his claim that personal investment accounts will save social security and rebut claims that they will simply grease the pockets of his Wall Street cronies.
Energy plan: I was not happy about his support for nuclear energy and the lack of a discussion on funding for alternative sources of energy.
Torture: Did anyone else find his comment that insurgents in Iraq wanted to return to the time when torture chambers were present? Also, his statement regarding rendition was very troubling. President Bush seems to be under the assumption that a pledge from the Syrias and Pakistans that they won't torture detainees that the US sends them will be carried out by them. Maybe he forgot that it's public knowledge that they have indeed tortured terrorist suspects expatriated to them.
No Child Left Behind: "I don't know about the lawsuit, I'm not a lawyer." This was Bush's response to questioning regarding the Connecticut lawsuit against his signature education reform. His ignorance regarding the unduly costs this law saddles states with was frankly depressing. I'm a firm believer that the Constitution gives states primacy over education. The federally mandated testing is not helping improve education and racking up debt for states already troubled by a sagging national economy.
Well, that's my two cents. I'd be interested to hear what my fellow bloggers thought about this press pow wow.