Wednesday, February 02, 2005
# Posted 8:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
9:01 PM: Brian Williams tells us that at some point, the State of the Union address became a made-for-TV spectacular. There's actually quite an interesting bit of background here. Before Woodrow Wilson became President, chief executives delivered the State of the Union address in written form. Broadly speaking, changes in the presentation of the SotU parallel important developments in the changing nature of presidential leadership.
9:10 PM: President announces unprecedented mission to Mars.
9:11 PM: Oh wait, that was last year.
9:11 PM: Bush introduces his speech as an implementation in the ideals of Second Inaugural Address.
9:13 PM: Denny Hastert should really make more of an effort to look like he's paying attention.
9:14 PM: A long list of health care reforms. But will they help resolve the Medicare crisis?
9:19 PM: You know, Bush could say "nook-LEE-uhr" if he wanted to, but he likes messing with the Democrats' minds by saying "nook-YOU-luhr".
9:20 PM: Immigration reform? Another issue that will divide the Republicans? I support it, but does Bush have any political capital to spare?
9:24 PM: Bush reminds us that in 2018, Social Security will begin to pay out more than it takes in. In other words, it will finally begin to resemble everyother government program.
9:24 PM: Social Security will simply not be "bankrupt" in 2042 and will not require dramatically higher taxes to save it. Raising the retirement age and slowing benefit growth are also very strong options.
9:26 PM: So we've got a lot of "options on the table" for Social Security reform. Which means we don't actually have a well-defined plan.
9:30 PM: Private accounts. Will Bush put a price tag on the transition costs? It doesn't seem like it.
9:32 PM: Bush says he wants a marriage amendment. The question is, will he make any real effort to overcome almost unbeatable opposition in the Senate?
9:33 PM: We can grow extra body parts from embryos? Cool!
9:42 PM: Bush promises to continue building "the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time."
9:44 PM: OK, so we're getting a brief recap of the inaugural. Now let's take about implementing those ideals.
9:46 PM: $350 million for Palestinian democracy is nice. But is it wise to raise expectations of peace between Israelis and Arabs?
9:47 PM: I was hoping for a second sentence there about democracy in Egypt. Of course Egypt "can" lead the way to a more democratic Middle East. But what will America do to make it so?
9:49 PM: I don't think that fighting terrorists in Iraq really prevents us from having to fight them here at home. But if the election is over and Bush is still sticking to this idea, then I guess he really believes it.
9:55 PM: Of course I agree that we should train Iraqi forces to defend their own nation. But what if Bush also said that we will train Iraqi forces who cannot only hold their own on the battlefield, but also respect the rights and liberties that the people of Iraq risked their lives to win at the polls?
10:00 PM: That is a powerful image -- the mother of a fallen Marine hugging one of the Iraqi women whose freedom her son died to protect.
10:02 PM: State of the Union addresses always have a sort of laundry-list quality about them. It's hard to get really excited about them, especially when all of the stirring rhetoric appeared so recently in the form of the Inaugural Address
10:04 PM: Tim Russert says that George Bush has bet his presidency on Iraq. As goes Iraq, so goes the President's second term. I would add: One year ago, that seemed like a terrible bet. Now freshmen members of the house are waving their ink-stained fingers in the air.
10:06 PM: In a few minutes, we'll get to hear the Democratic response from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. We know we're going to hear some strong words about Social Security. But will the Democrats have anything to say about Iraq?
10:09 PM: A bold prediction from Russert -- the debate about Social Security will be "hot, heated and contentious."
10:12 PM: Sen. Reid says he grew up around people of strong values. So why is Nevada the only state with legalized prostitution?
10:13 PM: Yes, that undoubtedly was a cheap shot. It's just so funny to hear someone who represents Las Vegas talk about value.
10:15 PM: Don't the Democrats have something better to offer than telling us the Indians and Chinese are going to steal our jobs?
10:17 PM: I have to admit, Harry Reid is the right guy to deliver a tough address. He just seems so nice and kind and agreeable, no matter what he's saying.
10:19 PM: That was really short on details.
10:20 PM: Pelosi looks like she's talking to a camera. It's because her eyes don't move.
10:21 PM: So much for Democrats trying to build an issue of toughness. Like John Kerry, Pelosi can only think about when our troops get to come home.
10:22 PM: "Regional diplomacy must be intensified." There's a slogan that will be remembered for the ages.
10:24 PM: Notice how Pelosi said absolutely nothing about strengthening democracy in Iraq. She described training the Iraqi army as the number one priority for US forces in Iraq. Fine. But what she had to say is that training Iraqi forces is a priority because it is the most important step toward the consolidation of Iraqi democracy.
10:26 PM: Pelosi briefly mentioned both Sunday's elections in Iraq as well as those that will take place this fall. But she said absolutely nothing about Bush's vision for a democratic Middle East. She didn't endorse it. She didn't condemn it. She just had nothing to say.
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