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January 21, 2004

Constant Misunderstandings

I'm busy working, but I wanted to offer a quick review of two statements from the State of the Union last night because I've noticed that misunderstandings abound. The first, and most common (no links needed, just look around), is in response to this:

I signed this measure proudly, and any attempt to limit the choices of our seniors, or to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare, will meet my veto.

On its own, this looks like an attempt to split the middle, warning folks on the left who wish to edit out the freemarket components and folks on the right who wish to nix the thing altogether. As John Miller notes, there aren't many people in the latter category. Combine that truth with the fact that the previous paragraph dealt with the freemarket/choice aspect:

Under this reform, senior citizens will be able to keep their Medicare just as it is, or they can choose a Medicare plan that fits them best -- just as you, as members of Congress, can choose an insurance plan that meets your needs. And starting this year, millions of Americans will be able to save money tax-free for their medical expenses in a health savings account.

And it looks as if the veto warning was pretty strongly against those who would reform the reforms out of existence — with a nod in the other direction for the sake of a uniter-not-divider tone.

The second misunderstanding has to do with probably the oddest part of the entire speech:

To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.

In response, Jeff Jarvis asks, "What the hell is the government doing getting involved in sports and steroids?" Well, the government isn't "getting involved" with them; the President just used his giant megaphone to encourage the sports industry to do something about steroids because... well, for whatever reason Bush had for doing that.

Posted by Justin Katz at January 21, 2004 8:19 PM