Two Telling Moments
The first telling moment of the speech was the very first sentence, when President Bush's smart turn of phrase and gentlemanly recognition fo NanPo's historic speakership signalled there there just might be magic afoot at the White House speechwriting shop, as was his subsequent congratualtions to the Democratic Congress.
And there was.
Clinton's' SOTU speeches, like most, were longwinded and uninspiring readings of his legislative policy in-basket, but Bush selected a handful of high points and spoke well on them, as in "without animosity and without amnesty" when referring to immigration reform. Phrases like that can be guideposts for future debate on legislation and are much more important than detailed explanations.
When he wandered into detailed explanations, as he did with his health insurance idea, he lost us. The idea appeared to be market-driven and well thought out, but where was the "without animosity and without amnesty" line when it was needed?
Turning to the war, his exposition was much better than his surge speech. He talked of both the global struggle and the Iraq struggle, and as John Podhertz wrote this morning,
By separating his discussion of the War on Terror from the war in Iraq, Bush did something important: He gave Democrats a means of expressing their support for the most critical struggle of our time - for demonstrating that, at least theoretically, we are all on the same page when it comes to fighting Islamic extremists who wish to do America great harm.And therein was the second telling moment. As he wrapped up his presentation on the war we are waging, he said:
This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. [Nice: This isn't about theory and wishes; a little slap across the face.] I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you've made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. [Perfect!] Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. [It appeared that Carl Levin, top military guy now in the Senate, did not stand at that applause point.]At this point, in one of the most shocking moments I have ever seen on television, most of the Democrats remained seated, many not clapping. They were telling America something: Our battle against the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, electronic surveillance and now the surge isn't about having a different approach, it's about wanting to lose, about wanting to see Bush go down in flames.
The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. [Whether the Dems cut and run or not ...] And that's why it's important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It's why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We'll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.
Well, Bubbies, Bush can't lose without America losing, and America saw you seated on your butts. Hopefully today at the RNC, so staffer is being tasked with making a large poster of a wide shot of the Chamber at that moment, with each defeatmonger clearly identified: Name, party and district.
Those seatwarmers are as much the enemy as the Two Als (Qaeda and Sadr), and the American people saw their fleshy bottoms pledging allegiance to our defeat last night. It was an outrage, and like the 757s exploding in flame into the WTC, may it be an image we never, never forget.
Hat-tip (Podhurst): Real Clear Politics
Related Tags: State of the Union, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Iraq, Democrats, Levin