President Bush implored lawmakers and the nation last night to give him one more chance to win the war in Iraq and avoid the "nightmare scenario" of defeat while presenting a domestic agenda intended to find common cause with the new Democratic Congress on issues such as energy and immigration.And:
Yet his approach contrasted with the last two presidents to address an opposition Congress after their parties lost midterm elections. Ronald Reagan conceded "serious mistakes" in 1987, as did Bill Clinton in 1995. Clinton moved to the middle so conspicuously that the opposition leader who gave the official response noted that he "sounded pretty Republican." Although Bush acknowledged two weeks ago that "mistakes have been made" in Iraq, he appeared unchastened last night and took no responsibility for his party's defeat or errors in office.Of course not. This is not the administration that ever takes responsibility for anything it's done wrong.
Josh Marshall at Talkingpointsmemo:
What a strange man. After disarmingly gracious opening remarks about Nancy Pelosi's speakership, the president congratulates the 'Democrat majority' -- words most every Democrat takes as a calculated insult. The prepared remarks say "Democratic majority". But apparently he couldn't help himself.He does say at his youtube response that since the underlying message of the President's speech wasn't clear, it was impossible to write well describing it.
The New York Times:
The AP (via The Trib):
President Bush tried to resuscitate his ailing presidency Tuesday night, using his State of the Union address to present a modest agenda of energy and health care proposals while warning an increasingly assertive Congress against undercutting his new Iraq strategy.
It was a speech that reflected Mr. Bush’s difficult circumstances. It was limited in ambition and political punch at home, with no proposals to rival his call two years ago to remake Social Security, no mention of rebuilding New Orleans and no allusions to limiting stem cell research or banning gay marriage.
And when it came to his plan to send additional troops to Iraq, he was forced to plead with the Democrats who now control Congress — and with a growing number of Republican critics — to “give it a chance to work.”
From Jason Altmire (in an e-mailed press release):
A politically weakened President Bush implored a skeptical Congress Tuesday night to embrace his unpopular plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, saying it represents the best hope in a war America must not lose. "Give it a chance to work," he said.
Facing a political showdown with Democrats and Republicans alike, Bush was unyielding on Iraq in his annual State of the Union address. He also sought to revive his troubled presidency with proposals to expand health insurance coverage and to slash gasoline consumption by 20 percent in a decade.
Unfortunately, the President continues to go-it-alone, particularly on the war in Iraq . He has taken an approach that ignores the wishes of the American people, the advice of military generals and the independent Iraq Study Group. President Bush's plan will not bring success in Iraq or make America more secure. Instead, it will put 22,000 more troops into harm's way. We need a change of course and to hear from the President that our commitment is not open-ended.
Jonathan Alter, Senior Editor of Newsweek (via Hardblogger):
Something unprecedented happened tonight, beyond the doorkeeper announcing, “Madame Speaker.” For the first time ever, the response to the State of the Union overshadowed the president’s big speech. Virginia Sen. James Webb, in office only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism-with personal touches-that left President Bush’s ordinary address in the dust. In the past, the Democratic response has been anemic—remember Washington State Governor Gary Locke? This time it pointed the way to a revival for national Democrats.Which brings me to the Democratic Response. The OPJ linked to the video here.
Alter was not wrong. The speech overshadowed dubya's in every way. About 3/4 of the way through he said:
Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues -- those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death -- we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.
We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us -- sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.
The president took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the Army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable -- and predicted -- disarray that has followed.
All in all I think the media's reading of it is right. Bush is weakened political and went, hat in hand, to the Democratically controlled Congress to ask (some say "implore") for just a little more time. It's a long way from his usual Texas style faux swagger. How many more months until someone OTHER than dubya delivers the SOTU speech?