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February 01, 2006

The Speech: A Solid B-

I apologize for the lateness of this. Really, seriously, packing and cleaning sucks. I've had just about enough of it.

On the speech: What can I say? It was, as usual, okay.

The overarching theme was obviously his confidence of victory-- in the war on terror, in Iraq, on the economy, even on AIDS -- contrasted with retreat and defeat on all of these. (Well, except for AIDS, I guess. The Democrats aren't willing to call that war a quagmire.)

I was a little surprised that Bush was as forward-leaning in confronting the Democrats as he was. He repeatedly called them -- or some of them, by which he means most of them -- defeatist and weak on security.

He once again noted the stakes of the conflict -- defeat in Iraq would surrender "the world to the violent." I wondered why he didn't say it would surrender "the world to the vicious." He used that word later, but I think it's so much more potent than the empty word "violent." Hell, the US Marines are violent; violence, per se, isn't the problem.

I'm tired of the freedom rhetoric. I'm not tired of the idea, mind you. I just wish he would come up with a new way to describe the conflict. "Freedom" is nice rhetoric, but it feels a little threadworn at this point. I'd prefer that he was a little more concrete in providing examples and evidence along these lines. I realize these things tend to be bullet-point affairs, but one fleshed-out anecdote about, say, elections in Lebanon or Ukraine is better than just saying "freedom" fifteen times.

This is an important enough issue that he can afford not to bullet-point it quite so much.

I realize he's not a newscaster, but he is providing a public-information function. If the NSA wiretaps prevented a terrorist attack, why on earth not elaborate on the terrorist and his plan? Why just leave it as naked assertion without details that will awaken the interest and stick in the mind?

He called on Democrats for bipartisan solutions. Fat chance. It's a cute little silly nod to civility, but why not echo his father, and say something about leading, following, or getting the hell out of the way? His put-down that "hindsight is not a plan" is pithy, but I think it was probably lost on most. Economy of wording is sometimes not a virtue. Why not spell it out -- "There are those of you who wish to carp, to criticize, to castigate for partisan political advantage, but where, exactly, is your plan?"

An off-note-- Bush says we're winning but if we abandon Iraq we will leave the nascent government and its increasingly-effective security forces to be killed or jailed by Al Qaeda. That may not be a complete contradiction -- we are winning, and the Iraqi government can win, but only with our help for the moment -- but I imagine some wondered if things were going so well, why is it so desperately important that we stay?

Bush of course called for "earmark reform." And for the line-item veto. Again, no elaboration. Does the general public know what he's talking about? Why not put a number on the amount of pork-barrel spending and inform the public how many of their dollars are going to low-priority projects that local citizens don't feel are important enough to pay for with their own tax dollars?

Do people get what the line-item veto is? Why not follow up with, "... so I can strike out costly and ineffective pork barrel spending items one boondoggle at a time"?

I enjoyed how the Democrats all cheered that they had stymied any reform of Social Security, as if that's a feather in their cap. But it left the Republicans with an awkward part to applaud themselves-- they loudly applauded when Bush noted the Social Security problem continues to get worse and worse.

I tuned out for the rest of the domestic-policy bullet-points. I heard stuff about AIDS and alternative fuels made from "whipgrass" or something.

One question: On FoxNews, after Bush mentioned that it was time for all of us to come together and stand behind the troops, an unhappy and very large woman in bright red reluctantly clapped (but did not stand) and mouthed out the words, pretty clearly I thought, "I think that's bullshit." Was this Barbara Mikulsky? I don't know what the woman looks like, but this fat broad looked like a "Barbara Mikulsky."

Another workmanlike if uninspired speech, overly epigrammatic, and too repepitive of the same ten bullet-points and key phrases from previous speeches. I'd jokingly give it a B+, but I think a B- is more like it.

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posted by Ace at 12:34 AM

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