The Corner

Belated Sotu Reax

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.

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