Wednesday, February 2, 2005

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Comment on the State of the Union -- and then watch C-SPAN!!

Feel free to comment on President Bush's State of the Union address here. Oh, and CNN's Michael Coren reports breaking news -- bloggers will apparently be providing some real-time commentary on the speech!!

Yours truly will not be live-blogging the SOTU -- but loyal readers will be able to hear my thoughts on the speech (and the Democratic response) if you tune into C-SPAN for the post-speech coverage. I'm batting second in their reaction line-up -- Ramesh Ponnuru leads off and Brad DeLong will come third. As These two have clashed in the past, think of me as providing a temporal de-militarized zone of pundity!

UPDATE: Well that was painless -- except for my near-total lack of coherence on the final question.

Quick take:

1) The foreign policy section was stronger than the domestic section;

2) That hug between Safia Taleb al-Suhail and Janet Norwood was the high moment of the evening for me [Yeah, but they got their sleeves tangled up--ed. Yes, but even that small moment of awkwardness was endearing.]

3) I find it depressing that the word "trade" wasn't in the SOTU, and yet Senator Reid brought it up as a negative ("Jobs going to India and China!" but Reid still wants better relations with other countries) within the first five minutes of his response;

4) I'm a bit worried about the mental health of C-SPAN's callers.

Otherwise, Jeff Jarvis pretty much captured my take.

posted by Dan on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM


No thanks. I have a lot of better things to do than watch that lying sack of human excrement mangle the English language. I'm ashamed he is our president.

posted by: weinerdog43 on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

hmmm... does that set the tone or throw a gauntlet?

posted by: Jon on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

"willing workers", "jobs Americans won't take", etc. etc. Apparently the speech was running a little long and they cut out the other stock lie: "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande river."

For more on Bush's guest worker plan, see The Big Show on the Border.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

"the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world" Holy Moses! The DHS can't even get their bureaucracy running smoothly and he wants the whole world to join hands and sing? Let the backpeddling begin with he.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

Join the revolution for progressive legislation

Write this url on your one, five and ten dollar bills.

Sign the petition to stop social security privatization, increase the minimum wage,and repeal the faulty Republican prescription drug benefit and replace it with a simple 80 percent coverage of medication under Medicare Part B.

Sign the petition to stop the War and Occupation in Iraq

Also visit these fine websites

posted by: maximus on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

What happened to Brad?

posted by: washerdreyer on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

I don't hate George W Bush but I vehemently oppose his irresponsible uncompassionate laissez faire economic cheap labor police state conservatism.

I support compassionate regulated capitalism with government help for the poor, elderly, ill, disabled, unemployed, and union workers.

As far as white christians most of them don't act very christian and lean towards the philosophy of the so called tough love movement of the 70's which doesn't act very loving.

Progressives, take your battle to the marketplace. Boycott Walmart and make them lobby for a progressive agenda.

posted by: maximus on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

From the perspective of public policy and narrative, President Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address brought few surprises. But for sheer chutzpah, President Bush reached new heights.

1. The Social Security Shell Game
As expected, Bush focused on Social Security privatization. Also as expected, he continued the selective use of numbers to create the phantasm of a "crisis." Needless to say, there was no mention of the $2 trillion cost and the serious risks of private accounts. Even more cynical, Bush in the guise of flexibility introduced politically unpopular trial balloons for Social Security, all of which he attributed to Democrats (Bill Clinton on raising the retirement age, John Breaux on ending early collection of benefits, Tim Penny on indexing benefits to inflation, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan on benefit calculations.)

2. Freedom's Just Another Word for...
As I wrote prior to the speech, President Bush tried to appropriate the very terms "liberty" and "freedom" for the GOP, in part by equating his crusade for freedom abroad with the greater "liberty" provided by his domestic program at home. His admonishments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, no doubt a bone tossed to critics of his Second Inaugural, were oddly out of step. And his tough talk towards Syria and Iran ("To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder") certainly will not calm friends or foes.

3. Keeping It Real with African-Americans
President Bush continued his shameless, transparent pandering to African-Americans, especially black churches. This is the same man who refused to meet with the NAACP during and ignored the Congressional Black Caucus his first term. Tonight, he promised to increase funding for African-American men and women afflicted with HIV-AIDS, use faith-based initiative funds to help churches fight gangs, and boost spending on DNA analysis for defense attorneys. As he did during his January 12 town hall meeting on Social Security, Bush wanted to keep it real for his homeboys.

4. Red Meat for Red States
Bush also offered his most vociferous supporters among the Spongebob crucifixion crowd the obligatory props. Despite recent news that the White House would back off the Federal Marriage Amendment, Bush reiterated his support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The President also recycled his "culture of life" rhetoric during one of the more bizarre moments of the night; while he spoke out against embryonic stem cell research, the camera focused on the wife of Christopher Reeve.

5. Passion Play - Iraq as Theater
Without question, the image of an Iraqi voter embracing the mother of a Marine killed in Fallujah will dominate reaction to the President's speech. It was very emotional and quite moving, but also no substitute for an American strategy for success.

In a nutshell, the speech was what one would expect from Mr. Personality. But judging from the instant CNN web poll results, the 60% positive rating by viewers showed that, as usual, it seemed to work for him.

For the details, see:

"State of Denial"

posted by: Jon on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

You sounded fine on C-SPAN.

You act like you have never heard C-SPAN callers. They're a rootin-tootin bunch! I listen to Washington Journal in the mornings for great laughs. It's similar to listening to a group of babbling Yosemite Sams.

posted by: EG on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

Very harsh words, but nothing new said Bush about Iran in his fifth State of the Union address. What are his specific plans to stand with the Iranian people who are already standing for their liberty? It's not his first time to send the same direct message to Iranians. So what he is going to do?

The other thing, which really bugs me is that how can you say Iranians are the primary state sponsor of terrorism while not even a single Iranian has been involved in any act of terrorism after 9/11? And how dare he talks about the reform in Saudi Arabia while almost all Islamic terrorist groups around the world are funded by rich saudies, many of them with storng ties to the Royal family?

Despite all internal rows, Iran has still the most democratic political system in the middle-east, except for Israel. And speaking of the reform movements in the mid-east countries, the genuine reform movement in Iran was absolutely the strongest in the region.

Bush had the chance to stand up with the Iranian reformists while they had still a mass popualar support, the same way he did with Ukranians. But instead his neocon friends chose to support a group of expatriates, mostly monarchist Iranians, who, unlike their exaggerated claims, had no influence among the Iranian public and effectively watched the hardline conservatives shut down the entire reformist movement. Now it's dead and Bush was partly responsible for that. He could've done a lot more than sending messages and giving money to the corrupt monarch.

posted by: Hossein Derakhshan on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

Hezballah (however you spell it) is still one of the largest terrorist groups in the world, entirely funded by Iran.


Long on style, short on substance, filled with misinformation. And signalling a return to his push to force us nearer to a Christian theocracy, with his strong emphasis on pushing faith-based initiatives (all of which, whether the law forbids it or not, require those seeking their aid to submit to unwanted Christian indoctrination).

After 4 years of proving that he can't be believed, people still believe this president's intentions are good. It's astounding that normally well reasoned people are buying into his nonsense, but some people see a charisma in the man that I cannot.

posted by: flaime on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

After the screwballs in the last State of the Union, steroids in baseball(?) and a ban on gay marriage (before anybody had mentioned it)(?), I was trying to guess what would be the ill-fitting parts of this SOTU. Frivolous asbestos claims...really? They are affecting our country so drastically that they need to be mentioned in the SOTU? Same question applies for gangs. Gangs? Maybe I don't see it here in Colorado, but it seems to me that gangs are so 1985.

The most encouraging part for me was the mention of "nucular" power. I hope that our pro-energy administration will do something about our lack of nuclear power. Progressives want alternative energy, I just hope they don't shy away from nuclear energy just because a Republican president is pushing it.

My two favorite parts:
Cheney appearing to snicker when Bush said, "I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer.(regarding Social Security reform)"
Laura Bush being slightly unsure whether or not to stand after the announcement that she would be the "leader of the nationwide" gang program. She looked like she got called out by her teacher for having the best grade on a test. "Am I supposed to stand? Wave? Sit and Smile?

posted by: JJ on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

The gang problem is in response to the suburban gangs in Northern Virginia where congressmen and their staffers live.

There are some Asian gangs (teenagers) in No. VA that use machetes to chop off hands. The state and county officials aren't quite sure how to handle them.

posted by: EG on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

I thought the Iran comments were pretty standard fare, and to be expected. Talking about Syria the way he did, though, seemed to be turning up the tension a bit. It was a pretty clear warning to Syria, I thought.

The marriage amendment remark was almost comical. You know he was just throwing evangelicals a bone. Joe Scarborough commented afterward that most Republicans just want the president to drop the issue.

Speaking of comical, the Democrats really need to find someone with some political instinct to start speaking for the party. I hate to say it, but Hillary would be a lot better than the people the party puts up right now.

I was also surprised that there was no discussion (in Bush's speech) of anything that falls under the general heading of "globalization," trade being the most important aspect of that.

posted by: Andrew Steele on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

I've always thought opposition party responses to the State of the Union speech were a waste of time. The audience drops way off after the President finishes, media commentary focuses on what he said regardless of what the opposition spokesmen say, just picking the opposition spokesmen is a task fraught with potential for bruising feelings, and it isn't until after the President's speech that one can easily separate the well-received parts of it from the things that were unpopular or controversial.

Specifically for the Democrats last night, I would have advised Harry Reid against praising America for being the kind of country in which every 10-year-old could dream about growing up to be just like Harry Reid. Also, the phrase "...and now speaking for the Democrats on national security, Nancy Pelosi" does more to crystallize voters' nervousness about the Democrats being weak on defense than any Republican could. And was it just me or did Ms. Pelosi have two sets of eyebrows?

But it wouldn't have mattered if the Democratic response had been given by Hubert Humphrey and Henry Jackson in their prime. Opposition responses should be saved for the next Sunday's talk shows when they have a chance of making news and can be crafted with knowledge of how the President went over.

posted by: Zathras on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

"Despite all internal rows, Iran has still the most democratic political system in the middle-east, except for Israel."

More democratic than Turkey? That's a stretch.

Iran's "democracy" has no more value than the Potemkin parliaments that exist in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan. And each of those countries' unelected leaders, flawed though they are, are still much less vile than their counterparts in Tehran.

You have a point about Bush failing to support the Iranian reformers. But equal, if not greater, blame falls on the Europeans for refusing to stand up to the mullahs in any serious way (threatening sanctions, ending diplomatic ties, etc.) when they began cracking down.

posted by: Eric on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

Dan do you think you could ammend number 2, about the hug? You know, because Ms. Taleb al-Suhail left Iraq 35 years ago, and she only went back because the CPA provided her the opportunity. And the moment was exploited for political benefit.

It just seems to me that if it weren't staged then it would have brought tears to my eyes, but that awful nature of it, along with the purple fingers made me think of the purple heart band-aids during the RNC.

posted by: Joel W on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

I liked the part where he said nice things about the Pell Grant program, and how he'd "increase Pell grants."

Didn't he just spend the last couple fo years *cutting* Pell grants?

posted by: CaseyL on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

>Long on style, short on substance, filled with misinformation.

...filled with misinformation! That's an understatement
for the 21st century. Bush's whole presidency is
about misinformation. But people aren't going to
harp about it too much...I don't think even Dan
is going to complain all that much.

Btw...Wasn't Al Gore not fit to be president
because he couldn't get his numbers right about
the cost of his dog's medicine?

The standard for presidential honesty has sunk
too a new low...(And America watched as 'Rome'
burned...)or something to that effect...(affect?)

Oh well....

posted by: James on 02.02.05 at 03:49 PM [permalink]

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