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Bush gets a C

Sounds like Bush stumbled a bit with this State of the Union address. I watched the other two and was generally impressed, but since I cancelled my satellite TV service I wasn't able to catch this one. Andrew Sullivan has a good summary:

It was the worst Bush SOTU yet. Maybe the occasion wasn't up to the previous ones. But the speech lacked a real theme; it had only a few good lines (at the beginning, on the war); offered no new vision or any concrete future direction in foreign policy; and revealed complete insouciance toward the deficit and, more importantly, toward those who have not yet benefited from the economic recovery. A pretty bad political misjudgment in my view. To brag about a growing economy without some kind of passage of empathy for those still struggling reveals major political obtuseness. I was also struck by how hard right the president was on social policy. $23 million for drug-testing children in schools? A tirade against steroids? (I'm sure Tom Brady was thrilled by that camera shot.) More public money for religious groups? Abstinence only for prevention of STDs? Whatever else this president is, he is no believer in individuals' running their own lives without government regulation, control or aid. If you're a fiscal conservative or a social liberal, this was a speech that succeeded in making you take a second look at the Democrats. I sure am.
I'm from the government, I'm here to help. This is the state of the things for most of the world, where people have apparently given up on the idea that they are capable of solving their problems themselves. Now it looks like there is no one to promote the opposite notion of individual initiative, even in the United States. Sad, really.

Instapundit has a good round-up on what people are saying about the speech.

Update: Reason has a few more thoughts along these lines:

President George W. Bush blew it Tuesday night. He delivered a State of the Union address that downplayed his most promising—and potentially revolutionary—domestic-policy initiatives. Earlier drafts had reportedly contained a lengthy exposition of his vision of an "ownership society," expanded and strengthened by tax changes and Social Security reform. Unfortunately, by the time Bush gave the address, his ideas were dispersed throughout a laundry list of issues, and his Social Security proposal was granted only a brief and halting mention. He spent more time talking about new federal subsidies for community college training. From a public-policy perspective the decision was disappointing; it may also prove to be politically costly.
The problem for Bush and the Republicans is that if the security issue gets muted during the 2004 campaign, a good chunk of their political base will get uncomfortable. It is difficult to overstate the extent to which the limited-government, free-market faction of their coalition—including mainstream Reagan Republicans, old-style balanced-budget moderates, and small-l libertarians—have been dismayed by Bush's dismal record on federal spending and entitlements. Non-defense discretionary spending under Bush and a Republican Congress soared by nearly 19 percent in two years, a rate not seen in decades and one making Bill Clinton look like Calvin Coolidge.
This is coming from a libertarian-ish site, so take these words with a grain of salt. But it seems Bush is starting to disappoint some of his supporters. This might just be pre-election manoeuvring to cut off the Democrats' oxygen (what can they promise now that Bush has promised everything?), but it's still too bad.


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