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February 2, 2005
Live Blogging The SOTU Speech Tonight

I will be live-blogging the State of the Union speech tonight, on this post. It starts at 8 pm CT, and since I have TiVo, I may use it to scroll back when necessary to capture what was said.

7:59 CT - The escort committees have been selected and have gone off to fetch the President. I'm settling in for the duration. I expect a good speech, but nothing terribly surprising or even particularly memorable. The best parts will have to do with the Iraqi elections, to be sure. Watch for the Ted Kennedy close-up on that one...

8:02 - Don't forget that Hugh Hewitt will appear on Joe Scarborough at 11 pm CT to discuss the SOTU speech. I expect him to bring up Eason's Fables ...

8:09 - We share it with a "free and sovereign Iraq." Nice start.

8:13 - After the reference to Iraq, Bush went directly into domestic issues. Interesting choice. The more visionary parts of his speech will be on foreign affairs, and I wonder if he doesn't want to finish strong instead of start strong like he did the last time out ...

8:17 - After the usual handouts that get the pork rolling, Bush memtions tort reform and health care adjacent. He's just delivered the message to the Democrats -- if you want to talk health care, it comes with tort reform attached. Get used to it or shut up.

8:20 - Four years of debate is enough -- except for Harry Reid, of course ...

8:21 - Social Security: the first shoe to drop. "Do not let anyone mislead you" -- that's a pretty contentious message. I guess Bush still won't back down from a fight. Bush gives a good explanation why Social Security has a problem, using the workers-to-beneficiary ration. The Democrats don't like the numbers Bush uses, and decide to rudely catcall during the speech. That should tell you all you need to know about the immaturity of the opposition...

8:28 - Thanks, Glenn, for the Instapundit link ...

8:29 - "The money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away." I'm on board.

8:30 - Good for the President -- he pointed out that federal employees already have privatization.

8:31 - He spent ten minutes, by my watch, on Social Security. He spent thirty seconds on the Federal Marriage Amendment. Anyone need an explanation? He's spending more time on the protection of human life. I like that set of priorities.

8:34 - I think that more of the real George Bush comes out in tonight's speech. He seems comfortable, relaxed, and in charge. He's allowed himself to smile in reaction to the crowd. He's not speaking oratorically for the most part; he's speaking as if he was addressing a small gathering. I like this speech more than I thought I would.

8:39 - OK, here's the part I thought would come first -- the war on terror. Bush obviously understands his strength will come from this part of the speech, and decided to hold it off to the end.

8:41 - A good list of positive actions in the war from the Bush administration. The vision of his second term comes out again -- the Force of Human Freedom. Ending tyranny is the ultimate goal.

8:44 - Bush gave a great oration on the different aims of the US and the terrorists. Any moral relativists listening will understand that his words were meant for them.

8:46 - I'm considerably less sanguine about the prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine than the President. I wish Condi Rice the best of luck, because from what I've seen from their election, I don't think Abbas has the juice to cut a deal that will stick.

8:47 - Calling out Syria for its support of terrorism, first on the list of tyrant nations and terror enablers. Iran comes second, and he defers to Europe in taking the lead in disarmament, but he speaks directly to the Iranian people assuring them of our support. I'd say that shows the direction that the second term will take. Allow Europe to handle Iran for now, while we take on Syria directly.

8:50 - A nice moment; several members of Congress held up ink-stained fingers in support of the Iraqi people's bravery in casting their vote. Bush emphatically notes that the Iraqis have "earned the respect of us all," a smackdown to those who claim that the elections were a joke. It wasn't a joke to the people who braved the bombs and bullets to cast their votes.

8:54 - He's really rolling here. He looks passionate and determined while delivering this section of the speech. "Tell America not to abandon us." A good statement on Iraq: "Freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come." He tells Congress that the troops will come home when we achieve the results we set out to get, not on some artificial timetable or based on Harry Reid's exit strategies.

8:58 - Sgt. Bill Norwood's parents get hugs and handshakes, and it's not easy to type through this ...

9:01 - A terrific and inspiring finish to one of George Bush's best policy speeches. It doesn't have the soaring vision of his inaugural, but -- it's not an inauguration, when one expects that. This speech is part road map, part halftime pep speech. He's much improved over last year, and I think he gets better every year he's in office. He may never be considered a great orator (for good reason), but he delivers some of the best political speeches since Reagan.

In this case, he kept the thread of freedom going throughout the entire hour, including the domestic section. Freedom will be his great theme, just as the New Deal was FDR's or the Great Society was LBJ's. W's will be the Force of Human Freedom.

Good speech, probably a great SOTU speech. What were your thoughts?

UPDATE: Ankle-Biting Pundits is (are?) live-blogging the Democratic response. I'll post my thoughts at the end, but I don't plan on live-blogging it, as from what I've heard in the first few minutes from Harry Reid, it sounds like the same generic blather we heard during the presidential campaign. I do note, however, that Reid uses the movie "Groundhog Day" while engaging in the same thing he decries.

UPDATE II: I thought that Reid managed at least to project some warmth, even if he did little but mouth platitudes until the end of his speech. Pelosi was, as always, a disaster. She looks as though she just came from an audition for Scream IV, and she speaks as though she wants to scold a recalcitrant class of third-graders. She spoke with more specifics than Reid, and manages to get almost everything wrong. Worst of all, she calls for a "much smaller" American presence in ten months, meaning she's signed onto the Kennedy bug-out plan.

Tom DeLay had a pretty good analysis. He called them the Party of No -- no ideas, no agenda, nothing but a No for anything the GOP proposes.

Ken Salazar accuses Bush of being "divisive" -- haven't the Democrats figured out that in a free society, people are allowed to disagree? He stabs Reid in the back, however, by telling Fox News that he isn't on board for a filibuster at this point on Social Security, despite Reid's boasting earlier. What a great wrap-up of Reid's leadership skills; he's proven a number of times now that he can't control his caucus. And Salazar's a first-termer!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 2, 2005 7:59 PM

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