Tuesday, January 20, 2004

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Here's the text of the speech.

I can't match James Joyner, Glenn Reynolds, Patrick Belton, or Stephen Green on real-time State of the Union blogging. Plus, I've been historically bad at reading these speeches. I used to be bored silly by Clinton's SOTUs, but he always got a public opinion bump from them.

My quick assessment was similar to Joyner: "a fairly boring speech." Compared to Bush's last two SOTU speeches, however -- the 2001 Axis of Evil speech and the 2002 "sixteen little words" speech -- a little boring might be good. And after seeing the Democratic response, it's easy to see why neither Nancy Pelosi nor Tom Daschle threw their hat into the ring to run for president. Hell, Howard "YEEEEEEEEEAAAAH" Dean looked better.

I thought the one effective line was about the Patriot Act:

Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year.


The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule.

Beyond that, there was a brazenness to when Bush said:

We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.

As Andrew Sullivan pointed out in an interview:

I don't think we can over-look the failure of the US to find tangible stockpiles of WMDs. It's a big embarrassment, and a big dent in the pre-emption doctrine. It doesn't change my view of the war, but it does shift my position on pre-emption. If our intelligence is that bad, then it seems to me hard to base potential wars upon it.

Oh, and one last thing -- what the hell are steroids in professional sports doing in the friggin' State of the Union?

posted by Dan on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM


Tonight's speech -- Bush imitating Clinton. Could someone please tell me WHY he is doing that? I think even the most die-hard Republican has to see the similarities. But, and facts are facts, Bush didn't do nearly as good a job.

Then the Democratic response.. OH GOD. It really can't any more pathetic. It reminds me of Trent Lott responding to Clinton's speeches. Don't the Democrats know that the "automatically oppose the other party" approach DOES NOT WORK when the other party is either 1) right, or 2) trying to co-opt your issues? Big sigh.

Somewhere out there John Edwards is thinking to himself, "Dash towards the center. Try to pin Kerry down on one tough issue in a debate. Scold the House Republicans."

posted by: MikeB on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]


Can someone tell me why the Repubs applauded after the line, "The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule."

You consider that something to applaud about?

That's just creepy.

posted by: anne.elk on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Speaking of elephants, do you feel safer tonight, knowing that the Chimp didn't have the guts to mention Osama Bin Laden by name?

I feel less safe.

Honestly Dan, how would you grade a student of yours that failed to mention Osama Bin Laden's name as part of a paper about the State of the Union, 2003?

Full Disclosure: I got a C+ in a paper I wrote in 1982 about Afghanistan as I failed to mention the most recent uprising. Totally busted, eh?

posted by: anne.elk on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

The entire standing O thing disturbs me. Like hearing about crowds applauding Stalin (or Lenin? Both probably) and nobody wanted to be the first to stop clapping so they rang a bell or something. It's like a dog show or something I don't know. Sad.

posted by: TG on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

...what the hell are steroids in professional sports doing in the friggin' State of the Union?

Yeah, and if athletes are sending kids the wrong message, how can Bush remain silent on the question of whether Pete Rose belongs in the Hall?

Edwards is going to win this election. Prediction, not advocacy.

posted by: Tom Maguire on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

I didn't understand the steroids or student drug testing remarks. His position on Gay Marriage is pure pandering, in my opinion. And I believe Tort Reform is dangerous.

On foreign policy I think it was stellar and that's my number one issue right now.

posted by: Tim on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Bush was part owner, and ran baseball operations for the Texas Rangers before he ran for governor of Texas. How soon we forget.

posted by: Homer Robinson on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Bush was part owner, and ran baseball operations for the Texas Rangers before he ran for governor of Texas. How soon we forget.
Yeesh.. in that case, imagine if that porn bimbo in Cali won anything! :D
posted by: bubba on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Who is 'that porn bimbo in Cali' supposed to be?

That kind of comment degrades the whole blog.

posted by: tdent on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Whaddayahmean, steroids don't belong in a SOTU? This is a form of terrorism, isn't it? My quibbles: it should have come earlier in the speech (first five minutes) and instead of panning to the qb of the Patriots, officials from the MLB players' union should have been shown, being led out of the chamber in handcuffs. Shame, Dan. Where's your sense of priorities?

posted by: Kelli on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

I think Tacitus had the best liveblogging on the SOTU. Frankly, I think he had a better response than Pelosi/Daschle.

He's actually talking about use of athletic supplements in the State of the Union Address? I am completely mortified...


So who decided that marriage came after the athletic supplements? What about the role of athletic supplements in marriage? What about activist judges who defy the will of the people who want athetic supplements? What about marrying your athletic supplements?

And on to the faith-based stuff....most of which I agree with. But can we really build a case that religious institutions were actually discriminated against in any serious manner? I don't like this formulation: why is a Republican president speaking of a "right" to government money?

posted by: Independant George on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Ack, bad html. The whole bottom half was supposed to be itallicized - they're all quotes from Tacitus. I didn't mean to plagiarize. It was an accident.

posted by: Independant George on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Speaking as an unapologetic partisan and a member of a tiny minority in the conservative movement(agnostic)I think the gay marriage thing is ingenious.

My biggest problem with the religious right is that since,'Jesus has a special place for them in heaven', ultimately they don't care how badly things get screwed up 'down here'.

They can and have sat elections out over this or that issue.
Your average RR will crawl naked over broken glass in a blinding snow storm to vote against any candidate on the wrong side of gay marriage.

Bush positions himself on this correctly and he need spend no more political capital on this voting segment. BRILLIANT!

posted by: Rocketman on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Lies nothing but lies. This guy thinks he can just make it up as he goes along. Who can blame him though he's seems to get away with it.
If Bush shot Laura on the Capitol steps 5 mins later the rt. wing meat grinder media whould want to know what she did to obviously deserve it.

posted by: GlennK on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

From Boing Boing:

State of the Union highlight
This was, hands-down, the best moment of last night's (infuriating) State of the Union address:

GW Bush: "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year."

Audience: [Applause]

GW: [Frowny face]

1.2MB DivX Link (Thanks, guerilla!)
posted by Cory Doctorow at 6:08:19 AM

posted by: anne.elk on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Uh, Anna - you genuis. The pause was deliberate, designed to draw out detractors.

It's called the 'play action fake' as long as we're going with the Patriot/Patriots theme. Or, see also google reference : Rope-A-Dope.

And, of course, it worked. Frowny face? Try scoldy-smirk.

posted by: TommyG on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

The purpose of mentioning steriods in professional sports? To get a direct shot of Tom Brady in the VIP box.

posted by: JonH on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

I thought I was the only one doing the real-time diary, but I was wrong. I have to say that real-time thoughts on the SOTU are entertaining. I was certainly struck by the amount of ovations during the speech. The crowd shots (some of them) showed that a few people were getting tired of all the sitting and standing.

And Professional Athletes using Steroids! Finally something I can agree with him on. But seriously, he left out the space stuff and put that in. I am disappointed. I think it is pretty clear that Brady isn't on Steriods, but do you think he would rather have a juiced o-line against a juiced d-line or have them both be clean? That is the kind of serious analysis that I think was missing from a lot of the commentators.

And can I ask how Nancy Pelosi got where she is. That was awful. It sounded like Daischle was much better, but there was probably no one watching by that time and there was a pretty low bar set by Nancy.

posted by: Rich on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Message to GlennK:
For expertise in getting away with murder, you may want to consult the Kennedy family.

But the important thing here is; at least you're not bitter!

posted by: Rocketman on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Anne, Bush's point was that the Dems are promoting the "Ostrich Defense" against terrorism.

The Republicans applauded in turn because Bush made the Dems look like fools. It was beautiful political theatre, with the Dems taking the pratfall beautifully.

FWIW, I think the Patriot Act is an awful piece of legislation. And instead of coming up with a viable alternative, the Dems are busy walking into metaphorical punches.

Oh, for a liberal party that actually had a plan instead of a moral high ground...

posted by: mark on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

If Howard "YEEEEEEEEEAAAAH" Dean wins the nomination, Bush can prance around live on all the cable news networks, naked and painted with goatsblood on the bodies of homeless people while drinking ether from the skull of Paul Wellstone and he will still win by 20 points. Did everyone see that clip of Dean? BBC's voiceover whlie he was screaming hoarsely said: "Howard Dean finished 3rd, but you wouldn't know it" ...and then we're gonna go to Washington and take back the White House YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAH!

posted by: J.Locke on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Which specific provisions in the Patriot Act are going to expire next year?

posted by: sam on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

I heard someone on the radio suggest that the SOTU sounded as if it was written when Bush's team thought Dean was going to come out of Iowa a big winner. That makes sense to me. The foreign policy material in particular seemed a pre-emptive response to the kind of angry, somewhat overwrought criticism that Dean has specialized in for the last few months now.

Another thought I agree with is Dan's on the analogy between Bush's speech last night and the one's Clinton used to make. Clinton's, though, had theme. Bush seemed to be picking micro-issues at random -- though one that had evidently bombed in the focus groups, the Moonbase Alpha project, apparently did not make the cut.

It seemed that Bush had direction when he talked about tax cuts and terrorism. All the rest was a mismatched collection of cheer lines. Incidentally, as someone who many years ago worked in Congress when some members thought it important to display a little personal dignity, I found the ostentatious standing ovations on one side and head shaking on the other just mortifying to look at. Just think of the effort and time required to win a seat in Congress -- let alone the Senate -- and still you had dozens of elected representatives acting like members of some high school assembly or European Parliament.

posted by: Zathras on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

“Another thought I agree with is Dan's on the analogy between Bush's speech last night and the one's Clinton used to make.”

Bill Clinton is innately more talented than President Bush. I suspect that his I.Q. is significantly higher. The current white House occupant in many ways reminds me of George Orwell. It is said by some that the author of Animal Farm and 1984 was not particularly brilliant. His basic honesty and decency made all the difference. Sadly, Clinton is a morally weak and flawed human being who squandered his many gifts.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

My SOTU sore spot: "Some in this chamber and in our country did not support the liberation of Iraq." Liberation of the Iraqi people was NEVER the point of the anti-war crowd. Extremely cheap rhetoric.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

I'm going to borrow heavily from Calpundit on this one, but here goes.

The evolution of Iraq's WMD program, as reflected in Administration statements:

March 2003: Weapons of mass destruction.
June 2003: Weapons of mass destruction programs.
October 2003: Weapons of mass destruction-related programs.
January 2004: Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.

Wow. Talk about defining deviance down. "Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

posted by: TedL on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Re steroids:

Dubya is indeed a former big-league sports team co-owner, but with the additional credibility of speaking from the best bully pulpit in the universe. With less than one minute in an hour-long speech, he threw down the gauntlet to challenge all sports team owners (and players and unions, but mostly the owners) to take the obvious steps to fix an epidemic. They would have to be nuts to ignore him. Having been so challenged, they can fix the problem if they have the will to do so.

Benefit to the American public, especially the youth who care nothing for politics but look to professional atheletes as their role models: Incalculable, but potentially very considerable.

Cost to the American taxpayer: ZERO. New federal agencies required to administer the program: ZERO. Legislation that must be passed to implement the program: ZERO.

Your beef with this is ... ? What, you're pro-steroid? You think the health of America's youth is too trivial an issue to be worth one minute of the State of the Union address?

You guys have no grasp of strategery, and you keep misunderestimating Dubya. One doesn't have to be a nukular physicist to see what Dubya was up to here.

posted by: Beldar on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Right, Beldar; it's obvious W is preparing to be the next commissioner of baseball.You can decide for yourself if he's more qualified for that role or his current position.

posted by: travis on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Bush wanted to be the current commissioner but Selig out-weaseled him for it back in 91-92 (promised his support while getting the support of the other owners for himself). If he'd become commissioner he never would have run for governor or President. So thank or blame Bud Selig for the Bush presidency. I tend to think both positions would have been better served had Bush gotten the commisioner's job.

posted by: Stuart on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

"So thank or blame Bud Selig for the Bush presidency."

Great--yet one more reason to bemoan the reign of Seligula....

posted by: Jeremy B. on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

I think you may be onto something re "a little boring may be good," having found something similar in speculating why the President was wearing a red tie at a SOTU address for the first time since 9/11:


posted by: Sissy Willis on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Daniel, I think you, and I until I re-read and pondered, missed the point on the steroids. Bush was using that as a point that while drug use is down among teens, they still get the idea that it's OK to use from "heros" in professional sports who think nothing of using steroids as performance enhancers. It's a point well taken, even if not articulately expressed. IMHO that is.

posted by: gmroper on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

You know, Anne.elk, the "Chimp" thing is really, really tired. It's old. It's overdone. It raises the question of why this semi-human hominid keeps outmaneuvering all you smart liberals.

Tell you what: you don't call Bush a chimp, and I won't call Teddy Kennedy a homicidal white whale. Deal?

posted by: Charlie on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Sorry Charlie,

I don't give a rat's ass what you call Ted Kennedy. Check out recent FARK photoshops for why the Chimp is a Chimp. FARK outrageously liberal as always, eh hoser?

posted by: anne.elk on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]


Ah come on Charlie. Let the poor little libs. have their nickname. They ain't got hardly nothin' else.. They ain't got the Senate, they ain't got the House. They ain't got the executive branch. They ain't got the majority of state governors.

They ain't got no issues to run on.(8.2%growth, no inflation, stock market over 10000, Iraq,Afganistan, Iran ,Libya,N.Korea,pacified and/or neutralized or moving towards democracy, no further terrorist attacks domestically for over two years, Saddam's fat hairy ass in jail).

In a year or two they ain't gonna have no Supreme court majority, and ya'll know what that means; soon their whole party's reason to exist is gonna be toast, that's right, no more RoevsWade.

Why these baby-killing swine aren't gonna have hardly anything to look forward to. So let'em call their names. It's all because of that Big Stupid in the white house. Why pretty soon name callin' is all they're gonna have-Bush done took ever' thin' else they ever had away. Wonder why they hate that big dummy so much? Heh, heh, heh.

posted by: Rocketman on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Yeah, She'll comment on her 'homi' attack, yet not correct herself on missing the applause line PAF.

Of course, why change? Look how well it's working for De.... oh. nevermind.

posted by: Doug Reynolds on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Words fail me. Luckily, the whole "Chimp" mem proves words failed them first.

posted by: Charlie on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Hey Rocketman, Bush doesn't have to go to Kennedy to get advice on getting away with murder, you forget Laura killed her ex-boyfriend in a car "accident" too!

posted by: Doc on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Hey Doc;

Thanks for the info. Didn't know that. Maybe you can fill me in.
How did that work, was she a grown adult, or still a teenager?
Did she drive the car into some water and then escape fully aware that her companion needed help and physically sound enough to get home but not sound enough to render any?
Did she wait over twelve hours before notifying authorities?
Come on doc. fill me in, back it up, no clever "drive-bys" please. Let's here from ya!

posted by: Rocketman on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]


Earth to anne.elk, where are you? Your mouth was all over this posting the last coupla days and suddenly, you're gone. You like to call names and make jokes, why don't you come out and play?

You'll like me, I ain't like Doug Reynolds or Charlie; they're gentlemen unwilling to descend to your level.
I'm not. I'm just like you honey, some come on out and show us what ya got!

posted by: Rocketman on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

Speaking as a conservative Republican, I thought the first half of the speech was excellent, the last half boring as hell. I didn't mind the steroid bit, but it didn't need to be there. As for the poster who said Edwards would win, I can't see that. We're in the middle of a war here people, and Edwards has given no hint how he would fight it. I doubt the American people will trust Edwards with the war on terror. Edwards can't even win re-election to the Senate, which is why he quit. Kerry would have a better chance, but I don't see a northeast liberal beating Bush in November. Not with the economy improving and the situation in Iraq getting better. If Osama is found, it's over for any Democrat.

posted by: Christopher on 01.20.04 at 11:29 PM [permalink]

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