One Take on the State of the Union Address

by Ryan on January 29, 2008

in Politics

I watched President Bush’s final State of the Union Address last night and reflected on the seven full years of the Bush Presidency, watching with slight trepidation about who might be giving this address next year. 

It was sad to see San Fran Nan behind him in the Speaker’s Chair– frumpy ol’ Dennis Hastert next to Dick Cheney used to make a picturesque backdrop of the ol’ days of Republican stewardship.  Last night, like last year, the Botox Bitty was carefully selecting moments, giving cues to Dems, as to when they should applaud.  Yet, although the Dems joined the ovations many times, they sat silently when Bush said:

“Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaeda and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.”

(Crickets on the left side of the hall; hoots, hollers, and ovations from the right.  Apparently, Republicans like the idea of al Qaeda in Iraq being “defeated.”)

This may seem trivial, but in politics everything matters and has meaning.  Thusly, it was sad to see Bush wearing a blue tie last night.  Like last year it was a sign of weakness and defeat, or that “new tone” nonsense rearing its ugly head once again.  I felt the same way this year.  This is not a great harbinger. 

Also, he gave his final nod to people the First Ladies’ Box to Bob Dole and Donna Shalala.  It was nice to see Bob again.

What I liked was how he looked right at the Dems when he criticized Congress and their misbehavior in regards to funding the troops or about their love of earmarks.  Bush even sounded conservative on spending, the border fence, Iraq and the broader War on Terror.  That was the Bush we all wish we had during those years of Republican dominance.  Alas, we got what we voted for in 2000: a big-spending Republican who’s good on national security.  Also, too many uses of the word “empower” in regards to the relationship between the government and the people– that’s not sitting too well with me. 

So, George has one last year to make a difference, legacy-build, and wrap up what the history books will say about his impact on America from 2001-2009.  The speech was nostalgic, and Bush sensed that too.  The Supreme Court showed up every year he gave the speech– that’s more than Bill Clinton can say.  Bush has a year to mend fences with the base, while creating an environment where he at least does not hurt our nominee this year.

AP photo.

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