I am sure I was not alone in thinking that President Bush was acting
entirely inappropriately in devoting time in the State of the Union to
whether 3rd graders advance to the 4th grade and whether athletes use
steroids. None of these matters should be within his auspices or that
of the federal government. Even if we have become inured over the years
to the nanny state, during wartime this is a completely unwarranted
distraction from the President’s primary responsibilities as
Commander-in-Chief. Now I know that many Democrats do not accept the
notion that we are at war, and I appreciate that position. But the
President believes we are at war–as he told us in the first part
of his address–so he should know better than to distract from
that vital issue of which he has sole responsibility (in collaboration
with Congress) with matters that are the concerns either of civil
society or of state and local government officials. Everything that is
important is not within the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Indeed, most important things are not. I chose to become a Cook County
States Attorney after law school, and never wanted to be a federal
prosecutor, precisely because I wanted to prosecute the most serious
(and real) crimes of murder, rape, armed robbery, etc.–an employment
preference that mystified my Harvard Law School classmates at the time.
Now if we can entrust the apprehension, prosecution, and punishment of
murderers and rapists to local officials, we can surely entrust the
responsibility of steroids and student promotions to the civil society.