It was a really great speech last night. No, I’m not talking about the president’s State of the Union address, but the GOP response from newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
First, the setting for the speech was well planned. McDonnell spoke from the chamber of the Virginia House of Delegates. There was a full and enthusiastic live audience. It gave the speech a dignity and significance that is usually missing from the opposition’s response.
And then there was the substance. While style and setting is important, it can never substitute for saying something that is substantial. He delivered in that regard as well. Let me share a few of his comments [since most people probably didn’t watch it]. McDonnell made it clear from the start that there is a difference between the Democratic and Republican philosophies:
Good government policy should spur economic growth, and strengthen the private sector’s ability to create new jobs. We must enact policies that promote entrepreneurship and innovation, so America can better compete with the world. What government should not do is pile on more taxation, regulation, and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class. . . . Today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much.
Note the emphasis on the private sector and the indictment of a government that taxes and regulates too much—actions that work against the goal of creating more jobs. In a followup to the point that government is doing more than it should, McDonnell gave a lesson on the proper role of that government:
The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level. Without reform, the excessive growth of government threatens our very liberty and prosperity.
It’s time once again to debate the concept of limited government, and to realize it should be limited on the federal level as well as within states. He then critiqued the healthcare monstrosity that the Congress tried to foist on the country, saying, “our solutions aren’t thousand-page bills that no one has fully read.” But he didn’t merely criticize; he offered Republican alternatives such as tort reform and allowing the purchase of healthcare plans across state lines to cut down costs.
McDonnell’s disagreement with granting terrorists the rights of American citizens was stated forcefully, and he repeated the line used by Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown: “we should be spending taxpayer dollars to defeat terrorists, not to protect them.”
The ending was rather Reaganesque in its appeal to God-given talents, the American Dream, free markets, a Scriptural quotation [used in context, unlike how politicians sometimes use Scripture], and the Founders’ pledge of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
As I said, it was a solid, substantive speech. McDonnell also delivered it effectively, I think. Too bad most people didn’t hear it, but at least you are now aware of it.