State of the Union 2006

I was in D.C. having dinner with an old Army buddy who was here for a union workshop, so wasn’t home glued to the pre-SOTU chat. I heard the early part of the speech on the radio and am listening now via television.

As usual, the transcript of the speech was released prior to actual delivery, taking out much of the mystery. The White House even put out excerpts for those without time to pre-read the whole speech. The Democratic response by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is up, too, for those who need to get to bed early.

Cindy Sheehan managed to milk a little more attention out of her dead son by getting herself arrested outside the Capitol.

As usual, the state of the union is “strong.”

The ode to Coretta Scott King, who died this morning, was trite but necessary.

Today our nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.

Otherwise, the speech has had lots of applause lines and decent sound bytes but nothing particularly surprising.

Good platitudes on foreign policy and democracy:

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies on Earth. Today, there are 122. And we are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government – with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan ….. and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink ….. and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half – in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran – because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.

Translating this into actual policy, however, will be virtually impossible.

He did make several references to “radical Islam,” although continuing to pretend that it was some tiny minority of the Religion of Peace:

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

He defended the NSA surveillance program:

Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

On the domestic front, the biggest news–although widely talked about because of the pre-release–was this:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

The biggest budget busting boondoggle:

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our Nation’s children a firm grounding in math and science.

Why this needs federal spending is beyond me. It gets better:

Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America’s children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

Republicans have even less business proposing this kind of thing than they did supporting Clinton’s 100,000 cops nonsense. This is simply not a federal responsibility nor something where uniformity is even desirable.

The obligatory reference to his two new Justices came very late in the speech:

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. And I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench. Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our Nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

This was immediately followed by combining some very popular restrictions on science with some very controversial ones:

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments , creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator – and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.

The remainder of the speech was filled with platitudes about how great America is, how we can all be proud, and how much better things will be in the future.


  • Steven Taylor is micro-blogging. Start at the top and scroll down. Or vice versa.
  • Ronald Bailey doesn’t think the government is the way to get rid of energy dependance.
  • LaShawn Barber is only live blogging on immigration.
  • N.Z. Bear thinks Bush is on the Porkbusters bandwagon.
  • The On Tap Boys have several posts on the subject, ultimately giving it a B-.
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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. fndjfn says:

    The entire “speech” was a stringing together of Frank Luntz-approved focus group words. This guy is an embarassment and insulting to anyone with a brain.

  2. Leopold Stotch says:

    fndjfn: I too am embarassed by Frank Luntz …

  3. legion says:

    Seriously. “America is addicted to oil” Did he really say that? Is there really any human being left on the planet that could even conceive of GWB “standing up” to the world oil powers, at home and abroad, and leading the US to an alternative energy future?!?

    Jeezy Creezy, I though Dave Chappelle shouting “Mars, bitches!” was supposed to be parody, but if Bush himself had done that, it wouldn’t be any more ludicrous than that point…

  4. Richard Gardner says:

    I thought delivery-wise, this is the best Bush has done – he is getting to be a better public speaker, content aside. I noticed the cameras moved to McCain when the President mentioned pork, and the need for a line-item veto (Q: with zero vetoes so far, would Bush even use a line-item veto?). If they had panned to the Senator from OK, who would have known who he even was (I have no idea what Coburn looks like)?

    The Social Security “crisis” response really disappointed me. Remarking that he and Pres Clinton are approaching 60 (pan to Senator Clinton), the solution is to set up yet another commission/committee/whatever to yet again state that there is a problem.

    But the Dem response by VA Gov Tim Kaine was freaky. Getting ready for some guests, I was just glancing at the TV – and it looked like he had a bad reaction to Botox, with one eyebrow an inch above the other. Maybe that is how he normally looks, but it looked like he was leering into the camera. He looked like someone out of The Munsters.

  5. LJD says:

    I have to agree that the response from the Dems was very disrespectful. Especially from the eye-rolling troll Clinton. If she thinks such pouting fits illustrate the qualities we seek in a Commander in Chief, then by all means ‘bring her on’.

    It was a sad performance that demonstrated to our enemies that we are indeed weak and divided, because the left cannot break from their association with absolute freaks like Sheehan.

    The Dem rebuttal was priceless. Regardless of what the President said, it would have been the same, tired message: ‘the sky is falling’. Their catch phrase ‘there’s a better way’ was funny also. There may be a better way, but the Dems have no idea what it is.

    I know it’s not right to criticize a person for their facial ticks, but in light of what he said, Tim Kaine really freaked me out. That eyebrow! I couldn’t tell if he was trying to sell me a used car or pick up on the camera person.

  6. Herb says:

    As I watched the speech last nite, I could not help but observe how rude, inconsiderate, and downright disguting manner the Democrat side of the aisle was portreying. It does not supprise me though, thats the way they all are. Obstructionists, decietful, dishonest and mad at the entire world for their defeat in 2000 and 2004. They just don’t have the brain capacity to be any other way.

    No Democrat thinks and acts in the intrest of the American people, only division.

  7. Rick DeMent says:

    No Democrat thinks and acts in the intrest of the American people, only division.

    Yeah like how the Republicans tried to “unify” the country by impeaching Clinton when we were trying to win wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.

    Look in the mirror!

  8. ICallMasICM says:

    The Dems should have had Cindy Sheehan deliver the response from her holding cell.

  9. LJD says:


    I would say Clinton divided the country by lying under oath. Had he not perjured himself, it would have been a non-issue.
    Perhaps the greater question is why the President was introducing Ms. Lewinsky to the finer point of Cuban cigars ‘when we were trying to win wars in Bosnia and Kosovo’.

  10. Herb says:

    Rick DeMent (ed)

    You are what I previously described as a “typical democrat”

    Is it in your Rich De Mented capacity to wake up and “just get over it” YOU LOST.

  11. Kent says:

    I guess it was too much to hope to hear Bush call for massive cuts in federal spending.