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January 28, 2008

State Of The Union Live Blog

Tonight, George Bush delivers his final State of the Union speech to Congress, as mandated by the Constitution. Will he use the SOTU event to attempt a rapprochement with a hostile Congress, or will he draw lines in the sand for what promises to be a contentious session in 2008? The White House has a series of papers already assembled to support the SOTU speech, and it looks like a familiar set of objectives. It looks like Bush will lead with the economy and budgetary proposals, with national security, Iraq, and the GWOT close behind. Expect sops to the global-warming crowd and a big finish with a focus on "Advancing an Agenda of Compassion Worldwide".

I'll be remarking and analyzing the speech in reverse chronological order, so be sure to check back on this post later in the evening. Michelle Malkin will also live-blog.

Final thoughts: It didn't move me much. He had his moments; his slam on earmarks was much appreciated, even if he didn't take the action we wanted. It's a huge improvement over where we were at just two years ago on the subject. His promise to veto any new taxes also satisfied me. The recitation of the success in Iraq was, I thought, particularly effective.

However, most of the rest of the speech seemed boilerplate and rote, and not particularly well delivered. Bush has been a mostly mediocre speaker, with a couple of moments in his terms where he seemed moved to eloquence. We know he can reach those heights when circumstances demand it, but otherwise he just sounds either diffident or annoyed.

It did leave me with one very clear impression: he intends to challenge this Congress just as he did in 2007. That is the best news I heard in the speech.

Live-blog follows ....


9:01 - Talking about We The People. He's a year late. Time Magazine already made each and every one of us the Person of the Year for 2006.

8:58 - Jonathan Adler at The Corner wonders what Nancy Pelosi is reading during the speech. It's the printed SOTU speech, bound in a nice-looking paper cover. Does she need help following along?

8:54 - On FISA: "We've had ample time for debate. The time to act is now!" Indeed.

8:51 - Want to know how old blogging is? Sean Hackbarth describes this post as "traditional live-blogging". He's Twittering the speech. Punk kids! The Heritage blog is doing the old-fogey thing, too, so I don't feel so alone.

8:50 - Palestinians have elected a president that understands that they have to fight terrorism? Did they have an election today? Oh, Bush meant Abbas. Yeah, sure.

8:46 - Over 20,000 of our troops will come home. Any other drawdowns have to be done in a manner which will not endanger the gains made in security. However, Baghdad has to improve matters, and Bush notes that they have made gains in oil revenue sharing and in de-Baathification reform.

8:41 - Iraqis have added 100,000 regular troops and 80,000 irregulars to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. He's doing a good summary of the progress between last year's SOTU and now. One telling comparison: a year ago, AQI offered America safe passage out of Iraq. Now they're looking for it themselves. Bush committed to victory in strong language -- and half the Congress stayed seated.

8:38 - Adding 3200 Marines to the Afghanistan theater. That's us, doing the job that Europeans won't do.

8:34 - Finishes the domestic agenda on immigration, challenging Congress to live up to our laws and our best ideals. Won't happen this year, not with a presidential election coming up. Now he's focusing on terrorism, and he's beginning to sound a little more eloquent. "Evil men" oppose the spread of freedom and liberty.

8:32 - Shorter GWB on entitlements: I had guts, you didn't. Time for y'all to suck it up. And he's right.

8:29 - I hate Vista. More DNS problems, just got them resolved. I liked what he had to say about stem cells and cloning, but wish he had been talking more about judicial nominations than just at the SOTU. The number of empty seats on the bench should be a Flash player on the White House website.

8:23 - Much more on trade than on the rest of the economic and domestic agenda. He cast the trade agreements in Latin America as a defense of democracy, but more accurately it should be cast as a defense of private property and capitalism.

8:19 - No one can deny the results of NCLB? Well, perhaps, but he wants it expanded, increasing federal involvement in what should be a community-run enterprise. What happened to vouchers? The NCLB originally relied on vouchers to push failing public schools to improve. Not even a mention in the SOTU. What a waste.

8:15 - Earmarks! He's scolding and not chummy. Another veto threat if earmarks aren't cut in half. He will issue the EO on future earmarks in non-legislative text; he should have issued it on all of the ones in the current budget, but we knew we wouldn't get that. The "open vote" remark had to sting.

8:13 - The line of the night: "The IRS takes checks and money orders" for those who volunteer to pay higher taxes. Any bill that raises taxes will be met with a veto. That's a pretty strong line in the sand.

8:12 - A little feistiness in telling Congress that loading up the stimulus bill, assumably with pork, will derail it -- and it's unacceptable.

8:07 - Now we get the thunderous applause that naturally arises when 13% meets 35%.

8:04 - Bush arrives in the cornflower-blue tie. Dick Cheney looks less enthused than Nancy Pelosi, for some reason.

8:02 - I'm watching this on C-SPAN, as I usually do. The chatter during the show on other stations gets very annoying, even with the best of commentators. It's akin to football announcers filling dead air during lengthy injury time-outs.

7:59 - Do you ever wonder if the President (regardless of who he is) has to fight the impulse to just walk in and say, "Can't we just get this over with?" I'll bet Ross Perot would have done it.

7:53 - Minnesota's Norm Coleman gets a spot on the escort committee.

7:51 - They're appointing the escort committees. Gripping, I tell you, gripping.

7:49 - Getting settled in for the speech. I should have a bell-ring script or something on this, waking me up if I don't update the post in any 10-minutes period of time. For me, the big mystery will be how Bush will attack on pork barrel spending. Will he take it easy and look for common ground, or will he scold? I'm betting the latter.


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