2004 State of the Union Wrap-Up
The speech was reasonably well written although, as always with these things, too long and covering too many subjects. While this wasn’t the best speech Bush has ever delivered, he did a solid job with it. It didn’t have the passion of his post-9/11 or post-Iraq invasion speech but the delivery was smooth and confident.
The opener was excellent. Speaking of the privilege of serving in elected office and then tying it in with Afghanistan and Iraq was expected but still needed saying. Throwing in the Palestinian Authority was interesting although a bit odd since we didn’t have much to do with that one.
The Social Security section was reasonably solid, although I’ve heard all the arguments before. Putting the years into personal terms–“parents of five year olds are already thinking thirteen years ahead to college”–a technique often used in the classroom–was very well done.
Bush got a standing ovation for saying that we would help achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, although it was entirely unclear how we’d do it except that Condi Rice was going over.
Calling out Syria was interesting, and remniscent of the Axis of Evil announcement a couple SOTUs back. He mentioned Iran again this time, too, including a direct pledge to their people that “as you stand for freedom, America stands with you.” That’s a bold and powerful pledge, although it’s not clear we really have the resources to back that up at the moment.
I’ve got mixed views about the presentation of the Iraqi voter woman and the parents of the Marine killed in Iraq. It’s a powerful technique, to be sure. When Ronald Reagan first started the bringing of heroes to sit in the guest box and then told their story, I thought it was special. I don’t know whether it’s just been done too much or I’m more cynical in my advanced years, but I’ve gotten tired of it. It seems so incredibly exploitative, although they seem not to mind it.
Overall, it was a solid speech with lots of good sound bytes. Even as a whole, it was much less laundry list-like than many recent SOTUs.
A summary of the television talking heads on Fox News will be forthcoming.
Brit Hume did a long homily on the state of Social Security as a set-up to whether Bush did a good job explaining the need to reform. The gang seemed to think he did, although they were tepid on the matter. Hume notes that it was unusual that the Democrats booed Bush during this portion of the speech.
Interruption for Democratic response
Tom Delay termed the speech “a home run” and one of the best SOTU’s he’s seen in over 20 years. His finger was blue, in honor of the Iraqi election.
Sen. Ken Salazar (D, CO) is very boring. He’s trying to spout the Democratic talking points about Social Security not being in crisis but seems not to believe it.
Charles Krauthammer termed the speech “pedestrian.” He seemed rather impressed, though, that Bush laid down markers to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran.
Juan Williams thought the speech was very moving on an emotional level. He thought Bush could have offered more specific policy details on exiting Iraq.
Chris Wallace though Bush’s description of the Union, “confident and strong,” also describes Bush.
Unless someone really interesting comes on very soon, I suspect my live blogging will end.