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Bush’s bottom lines

(ANWR photo by NASA)

The truth is that I could not watch Our Current President‘s speech last night. Sorry, I haven’t been able to sit through one of those in several years. Instead I watched a documentary, “Being Carabou,” about a young couple who followed and filmed the carabou herds on their three month seasonal migration to the National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. It was riveting.

I gather from this mornings’ reports carried on the web that the “State of the Union” was not. This post is an exploration of what several reporters saw as the “bottom line” of OCP‘s address to the joint session of Congress.

CNN’s article gave no analysis, just extensive quotes from the speech.

This New York Times story’s concluding paragraph reports that OCP promised more budget cuts. “Mr. Bush said his 2007 budget, to be submitted to Congress next week, would “reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities.”

New York Times analyst David Sanger’s story conclusion captures the reality of OCP’s situation very well:

It is worth remembering that Mr. Bush has more time left in his presidency than John F. Kennedy served in his. Three years is a lot of time, and as Mr. Bush proved after Sept. 11, it only takes one day to redirect a presidency. But the path he described Tuesday night aimed more toward the middle lanes he talked about so often in the early days after he arrived in the White House, rather than the shifting of tectonic plates that he tried to engineer in the past four years.

Washington Post writers Jim VandeHei and Dan Balz came to this rather pessimistic presidential performance conclusion,

White House officials described Bush’s speech as more philosophical than the typical State of the Union address, but at this point the philosophical outlines of his presidency are well known. What will count in the year ahead are the results his policies produce. Legislative achievements may help, but what will be even more useful for Republican candidates is a president who has regained the public’s confidence. That will take more than one speech.

The LA Times analysis by Ron Brownstein concluded that,

But other elements of Bush’s agenda could garner Democratic support. While demanding tougher border security, the president reaffirmed his support for a guest worker program that places him closer to many Democrats than to Republican conservatives. His focus on competitiveness echoes concerns many Democrats have raised about sustaining prosperity in an era of global economic rivalry. Debates on these issues probably will fill much of Congress’ time this year. But they may not shape the results of November’s election as much
as whether Bush can persuade voters now sour on his performance to reconsider their views — a challenge that may pivot less on the arguments and proposals he offered Tuesday than on the course of actual events in the economy, at the gas pump and, above all, in Iraq.

The Chicago Tribune’s analysis was written by Michael Tackett. It begins, “George W. Bush made an implicit concession Tuesday night: After five momentous years he has little new to say.” Tackett ends with this,

Of all the appeals he made, the one perhaps least likely to succeed is his call to change the bitterly divisive partisan tone in Washington, a central theme of his campaign for the White House in 2000. The way in which he did so, however, might make that task all the more difficult. Rather than offering compromise, particularly on the war and on contentious social issues, the president called for his opponents to come his way. In a midterm election year, with Democrats lusting for a return to power in Congress, compromise won’t be a welcome visitor to the capital. That fact was made vivid by the nearly unanimous Democratic vote against Alito, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday 58 to 42. For now, though, Bush still has the votes in Congress to largely get his way, with or without the loyal opposition, with or without a home run speech.

Evidentally, I did not miss much by not watching OCP’s remarks. However, I was pleased to find that The Washington Post carried the full text of the Democratic response to the State of the Union speech. I regret that I did not watch this one. Following are the concluding paragraphs of Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine’s somewhat more inspirational Democratic response :

‘Real Results for Real People’
The administration is falling behind in other critical areas: preserving the environment, keeping our workplaces safe, protecting family farms, keeping jobs in America. Our communities are then left to deal with the challenges and the consequences of these federal failures without a reliable partner.
But we managed to find a better way. The better way is to focus on service. It’s about measuring what we do in terms of real results for real people. It’s not about partisanship or political spin. It’s about protecting the rights endowed by our Creator, fulfilling the principle of equality set out in our Declaration of Independence, and ensuring that the light of liberty shines on every American.
If we want to replace the division that’s been gripping our nation’s capital, we need a change. Democrats are leading that reform effort, working to restore honesty and openness to our government, working to replace a culture of partisanship and cronyism with an ethic of service and results.
Our greatest need is for America to heal its partisan wounds and become one people. You know, those are words Thomas Jefferson expressed after he was elected president. And they ring as true today
as they did in 1800.
Tonight, we pray, earnestly and humbly, for that healing and for the day when service returns again as the better way to a new national politics. We ask all Americans to join us in that effort because, together, America can do better.
Thank you for listening, and God bless the United States of America.

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My “creative” post today at Southwest Blogger is about carelessness.

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