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Bush, Riley seem to be singing the same tune

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Was I the only one who saw some striking similarities between the State of the State address delivered by Gov. Bob Riley and the State of the Union address delivered by President George Bush?
Both confidently proposed ambitious new initiatives which they insisted could be achieved without raising taxes but both were very short on specifics. Be sure both took time to pay tribute to their wives, and most certainly, tribute was paid to the men and women who are now wearing the suit of their country in Iraq.
The similarities didn't stop there. Reaction to the remarks of the two men from their audiences…Congress and the State Legislature…was almost identical. Both assemblies are badly divided, politically speaking, and that dictated how many of them responded.
If you were a public speaking teacher you probably would have given Gov. Riley, a good grade. I certainly would, most certainly in comparison with the oratorical talents…or lack of same…of some of our past governors.
When it comes to public speaking, Fob James and Guy Hunt wouldn't have made the quarterfinals of a countywide American Legion oratorical contest.
I will never forget the night Fob delivered his very first State of the State Address…it was January 1979. He was making a powerful point about improving the quality of education and he pointed his finger at the Legislature (and to a statewide TV audience) and declared: "I want you and I to win the war on illiteracy."
Every English teacher in Alabama let out a collective groan. He should have said "you and me."
But enough of that, back to the content of Riley's remarks.
Give him points for not backing off from a fight. He looked Dr. Paul Hubbert in the eye and said a 7 percent raise for teachers was too much…the most he could offer was 4 percent.
He looked the legislators in the eye and said it is time to put an end to pass-through-pork, knowing full well that there are some legislators who would give up their wives and children before they would give up that pork money.
Another challenge by Riley which will surely be ignored came near the end of his speech…a challenge to do the right thing and don't let upcoming elections impact on how you vote.
"Let politics stand down for a while," he said. "Don't waste any time thinking about future elections until we have done our jobs here."
You could almost read the lips of the legislators in responding to that: "Do what?"
He could have left that unsaid. After all was he not the man who not long before had spent big bucks placing an fancy insert in the major daily papers which could only be interpreted as his a kick-off for his campaign for a second term?
The prediction for this session? The same as the hundreds of others I have witnessed–an ugly brawl from start to finish where some good legislation may be passed…but not much.
The numbers weren't even close: Baxley 45 percent; Siegelman 31 percent. That's landslide numbers. To her credit, Baxley is no longer playing games about her candidacy. She intends to run, period, end of discussion.
A sidebar to the Baxley story…I am not sure how she did it, but there is considerably less of Lucy to love these days. Not that she was ever overweight (I have better sense than to suggest that) but the new Lucy is slimmer and trimmer than I have ever seen her. In the boxing world I guess you could say she is getting down to her fighting weight fighting weight.
another black eye…no pun intended…to our state. The frightening video of
that brawl has now been seen around the world…on national and international
television and on the internet.
About the only winner from that ugly scene was the National Basketball
Association. The fight at the Laker-Piston game looked like kids play
compared to what happened in Prattville.
The time has come…in fact it has already passed…for school officials
and law enforcement officers to take off the kid gloves, politically correct
though they may be, and put end to this animal-like conduct.