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State of the Union: Perspectives

“The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” – Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution

o On Tuesday, Jan 20th, President George W. Bush (OC) was welcomed in Congress with a round of cheers and applause to give his annual State of the Union address. The speech came in between the Iowa and New Hampshire presidential primaries and was in part a kickoff to Dubya’s re-election campaign. An overview of the speech:

o Homeland Security: Bush called for a renewal of the patriot act, citing that it was vital to the defense of a free nation and that terrorist acts are far from over. He also pushed to stay on the offensive in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world. In general, he urged Congress to keep fighting the good fight against terror.

o Rebuilding Iraq: Bush pledged that “The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right.” Responding to Democrat candidates’ criticisms on the purpose of the war in Iraq and the lack of international cooperation, Bush once again stressed that leaving Saddam Hussein in power would have had deadly consequences for the future. He also stated that the duties in Iraq had already been internationalized, and cited the various countries taking part in rebuilding Iraq. He also noted the victory in Libya and the ongoing negotiations with North Korea.

o Economy: Bush praised Congress for passing his massive tax cut stating “because you acted to stimulate our economy with tax relief, this economy is strong, and growing stronger.” He also pushed for further tax relief and the renewal of his tax reductions.

o Education: Building on his No Child Left Behind Act, Bush pushed for further economic reforms and the placement of a quality teacher in every classroom. “Job training is important, and so is job creation. We must continue to pursue an aggressive, pro-growth economic agenda.”

o Health Care: “On the critical issue of health care, our goal is to ensure that Americans can choose and afford private health-care coverage that best fits their individual needs.” Bush touted the qualities of his Medicare health reform package, the goal of keeping health coverage inexpensive for small businesses, and the importance of keeping health care privatized.

o Domestic Issues: Bush emphasized the importance of our children and pushed policies to fight against drug use (including steroids for athletes) and spending in support of abstinence. He then went on to defend the institution of marriage claiming that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman, citing the Defense of Marriage Act that was passed into law by President Clinton. He also pushed for the inclusion of faith-based charities in federal grant competition.

o Closing: “My fellow citizens, we now move forward, with confidence and faith. Our nation is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable – and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power Who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true.”

Reactions
The following are various excerpts of public opinion from around the world.

World Socialist Web Site
“The State of the Union speech given by George W. Bush Tuesday night was among the most menacing and belligerent in American history. The US president outlined a program of limitless and perpetual warfare, on every continent, and against any regime that stands in the way of the rapacious American ruling class.”

The Economist
“If the state of the union is any guide, all this means that Mr. Bush is planning to run on his record. With the economy rebounding, broad public support for the war on terror and big reforms in education and health under his belt, that may be understandable. But there is a risk. It is all very well claiming credit for, say, progress in Iraq, but this says nothing about the problems of transferring sovereignty in that country. It is fine to boast about the recovery, but this fails to address the problems of the soaring budget deficit in the short term. By refusing to offer some new theme for a second term, Mr. Bush will find it harder to reply to such criticisms.”

National Organization of Women (NOW)
“In what we hope will be his last State of the Union Address on Jan. 20, George W. Bush set the tone for his 2004 presidential campaign. Bush spoke for almost an hour, casting a trademark smirk at the country. In that hour, he spoke about many issues that involve and affect women, but failed to address how his own politics on these issues impact women’s lives, health, rights, and freedom.”

Christian Coalition
“Christian Coalition applauds President Bush’s condemnation of renegade judges and his constitutional support for traditional marriage.”

From GLAAD’s website, reaction to the speech.
Cheryl Jacques, Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign, said she was distressed to hear Bush suggest support for a constitutional amendment. “In more than 200 years of American history, it has never been necessary to use the Constitution to deny basic rights,” she was reported as saying.

Emily Watson, satire of Bush’s speech, letter to the Editor, Al-Jazeerah
“America supports me (Bush) because I just repeat the mantra “9/11 … 9/11 … 9/11 … 9/11 … 9/11 …” over and over and over again, and I can attack anybody (like Saddam Hussein) even if they have nothing to do with 9/11.”

Roy Eccleston, “The Australian”
“George W. Bush insists the world is getting safer, but not so safe that you can trust a Democrat in the White House.”

DEMOCRATS RESPOND

Howard Dean
“The State of the Union may look rosy from the White House balcony or the suites of George Bush’s wealthiest donors, but hard-working Americans will see through this president’s effort to wrap his radical agenda with a compassionate ribbon.”

General Wesley Clark
Wesley Clark said that President Bush’s promises were “just smoke and mirrors” to hide that he “has helped those who have most, hurt those who have least, and ignored everyone in between.”

Senator Joe Lieberman
President Bush “is trying to camouflage his irresponsible, divisive, right-wing agenda and repackage himself as a centrist compassionate conservative around election time.”

Senator John Kerry
President Bush “still doesn’t understand what’s happening in living rooms across this country.” Kerry said that Bush “talked about how he wants to help people find jobs, but for three years he stood by while we lost more jobs than at any time since the Great Depression.”

January 26, 2004
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