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George W Bush and the real state of the Union
January 20, 2004 6:32 AM   Subscribe

George W Bush and the real state of the Union. Today the President gives his annual address. As the election battle begins, how does his first term add up? It's all been said before but it's good (?) to see it all nicely put together.
posted by acrobat (82 comments total)

 
I'm the bleedingingest-hearted liberal around, and even I can see that this is lame. This is all ground we've been over again and again. And throwing in stats about Bush's time as governor, the time he spent on vacation, and Rumsfeld's meeting with Saddam just comes off as whining. If they had stuck with a few facts that matter (net job losses, Bush's reckless environmental policies), it might have been powerful. As it is, it just comes off as easily-dismissable partisan bitching.
posted by jpoulos at 6:50 AM on January 20, 2004


This is all ground we've been over again and again.

^What he said.
posted by dhoyt at 6:57 AM on January 20, 2004


0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945.
When did Saddam surrender, this is now, not yesterday. With #'s it is very easy skewing things is what I like to point out. The above statement makes it sound like when Russia invaded Berlin, not one American soldier was killed afterwards. As that was when the Nazi regime ended, Hiltlers suicide. How long after Berlin fell, was the treaty signed?

What about Japan, a country we did not invade as we dropped the bomb. The US occupied it for 6 year after the war. Service men were killed during that time too.
#s can be desceptive when comparing apples & oranges.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:05 AM on January 20, 2004


So, you're saying he should run on his record then?
posted by ElvisJesus at 8:00 AM on January 20, 2004


Does anyone know where this will be broadcast online. I want to play the drinking game.
posted by nthdegx at 8:11 AM on January 20, 2004


I'm sure there's an audience who will eat up every one of those statistics, but I'd love to see some attribution and sources for them. I'm not trying to defend GWB and his administration, but the figures had to come from somewhere.
posted by emelenjr at 8:14 AM on January 20, 2004


You like your statistics with sources? Here's one of my favorites. If you'd like you can also compare the figure -- singular -- here and see how they stack up to those found here or here.

I like these figures about the not-yet-passed 2004 Federal Budget (no hurry, the fiscal year started 4 months ago) too, but I don't know that they will be discussed tonight. More likely you will hear something about this idea for going to Mars, an idea dismissed when Daddy brought it up as "too expensive."
posted by ilsa at 8:55 AM on January 20, 2004


And throwing in stats about Bush's time as governor, the time he spent on vacation, and Rumsfeld's meeting with Saddam just comes off as whining.

If it was JUST that number, I'd have agreed with you. But they show the average american's vacation time (as a contrast).

Showing the past ties of Rumsfeld brings up this concept:
Saddam is a bad man. He has always BEEN a bad man. Yet, when there is a American dollar to be made, Rumsfeld and the American Government have worked with the bad man. To later try to claim that Saddam is bad and needs to be removed does not jive with the past actions.

Please explain why comparing and contrasting is 'whining'?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:59 AM on January 20, 2004


I think it's a good list. The lack of attribution is a major oversight, however.

I liked this (unattributed) factoid "54%: Percentage of US citizens who believe Bush was legitimately elected to his post" - Now, if only that middle swing 10% would take time to read Greg Palast, on the 2000 election in Florida......
posted by troutfishing at 9:21 AM on January 20, 2004


I am apparently one of the few unashamed conservatives that haunt this board.

Not only is this list lame it ignores one of the primary precepts of good journalism (maybe no one has ever so accused the Independent) - and that is primarily one of CONTEXT. Example - they state the average worth of the Bush cabinet members. What about Clinton, who had more millionaires on his cabinet than any other president? How does the average wealth of the Bush cabinet stack up against the wealth of previous administrations if adjusted for inflation?

Furthermore some of these numbers are simply unprovable and sources cannot be provided. For example, they state that Bush has not attended the funeral or memorial of any soldier killed in Iraq. Well, how do they know this? I suspect that there are a lot of functions, meetings, and events that Bush attends for which the White House staff does not call up the Independent and make sure they have a reporter to cover the event.

Lastly, some of these numbers are GOOD. I for one, appreciate the fact that Bush executed more killers and murders than any other governor in Texas history.

I could go on and on. Bu tthat's not the point... give me the resources of the Independent, and I can come up with a negatively one-sided list like this for ANYONE.
posted by insulglass at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2004


What about Japan, a country we did not invade as we dropped the bomb. The US occupied it for 6 year after the war. Service men were killed during that time too.
#s can be desceptive when comparing apples & oranges.


I'd say there is increasing evidence that the US is not in control in Iraq, and that the place may well be headed toward being a failed state for the near term. When, 9 or 10 months after an army conquers a place, its HQ is not safe from attack, this is always a bad sign. For those who keep making Germany and Japan analogies, I ask you if MacArthur's HQ was getting blown up in Tokyo in April of 1946.
posted by y2karl at 9:27 AM on January 20, 2004


Please explain why comparing and contrasting is 'whining'?

I didn't say it was whining. I recognize the importance of the Rumsfeld meeting and the vacation figures. I said it is perceived as whining, by the people who matter--the voters.

They simply don't care that we had relations with Iraq in the past. They don't care that Bush is a spoiled frat boy who doesn't give a shit about the middle and working classes. They care about their paychecks and their kids going to college and not having skyscrapers falling on their heads. Trotting out every conceivable anti-bush factoid, in some cases reaching back 20 years, and especially lumping it all under the heading of "how does his first term add up" strikes the average American as Spin & Bickering™, and bounces right off them like rain off a duck.
posted by jpoulos at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2004


(To be honest, I'm not sure that rain bounces off a duck. That's pure speculation on my part.)
posted by jpoulos at 9:53 AM on January 20, 2004


"For example, they state that Bush has not attended the funeral or memorial of any soldier killed in Iraq. Well, how do they know this? I suspect that there are a lot of functions, meetings, and events that Bush attends for which the White House staff does not call up the Independent" - Insulglass, several American newpapers have been tracking this story too - and making political hay out of it. However, I think GW Bush may have actually gone to a funeral recently (one) because his avoidance was in danger of turning into a major liberal talking point. I could be wrong about that one visit though.

jpoulos - now you've got me scratching my head, on that. I know that rain bounces off ducks if you smear them with vaseline. Just speaking hypothetically, of course.
posted by troutfishing at 10:07 AM on January 20, 2004


They simply don't care

I'm an average American, and I vote.

And I do care how much time Bush spends on vacation. I pay his salary, after all.
posted by archimago at 10:13 AM on January 20, 2004


They care about their paychecks and their kids going to college and not having skyscrapers falling on their heads.

Well, the entire nation did add 1000 new jobs in December, which, if divided evenly, would mean perhaps 20 people in your state found work. How about that jobless recovery, anyway?
posted by y2karl at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2004


When, 9 or 10 months after an army conquers a place, its HQ is not safe from attack, this is always a bad sign. For those who keep making Germany and Japan analogies, I ask you if MacArthur's HQ was getting blown up in Tokyo in April of 1946.

"If": if frogs had wings, they'd fly...attack:blown up = apples:oranges... agree with you y2karl, but when did Iraq surrender to the USA. Also mentioning Generals MacArthur in Japan, which US Generals are in Iraq now?
posted by thomcatspike at 11:14 AM on January 20, 2004


I know that rain bounces off ducks if you smear them with vaseline.

Does crude oil count as well? Hypothetically...
posted by ElvisJesus at 12:01 PM on January 20, 2004


That is why Americans have voting rights. They also have (or are supposed to have) free will to make what they think are the right decisions.

All this talk is again pointless this year if Bush fubars the vote, again..
posted by omidius at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2004


when did Iraq surrender to the USA.

Wasn't that the time when aWol declared the war was over? Or was he lying yet again? :-)
posted by nofundy at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2004


I will be part of a focus group on MSNBC to give feedback after the State of the Union (on Chris Matthews/Hardball, etc). I'm interested in any suggestions you all might have for what to say on the air. I probably won't have much time, and of course I have plenty of my own ideas, but I'll consider other suggestions.
posted by sreilly at 1:02 PM on January 20, 2004


How about "What can be done to put Americans in those so-called jobs Americans don't want?" or "How are we going to pay today's seniors the benefits they have been promised if we let younger workers keep their Social Security Tax contributions?" (assuming he says anything about privatization) or even "How can we do a better job balancing our civil liberties with the War on Terror?"
posted by ilsa at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2004


Yes, I agree. This is silly. Context is everything.
posted by McBain at 2:14 PM on January 20, 2004


Also mentioning Generals MacArthur in Japan, which US Generals are in Iraq now?

Speaking of apples, oranges, hair splitting and rhetorical red herrings--Iraq did not officially surrender at all but the occupation did begin sometime in early 2003, would you not agree? Certainly it can be dated from the appointment of the IGC.

The general, of course, would be Sanchez and the civilian administrator Bremer--both their offices are in the Green Zone as I recall.

I am not sure when civilian administrators took office in Japan after General MacArthur was appointed suzerain. I do know we did not announce plans to bug out of Japan in little over a year after conquering it nor did we make a complete mess of its occupation. In Japan, we called the shots rather than repeatedly change our announced plans to accommodate some politically powerful local religious figure's wishes.

At any rate, there were no car or truck bombs or other massive explosive device detonated in Japan with the cost in lives of scores of civilians, US military, UN and Red Cross personnel at any time after the US Army and Navy took administrative possession of Japan--is this not true?
posted by y2karl at 2:19 PM on January 20, 2004


I will be part of a focus group on MSNBC to give feedback after the State of the Union (on Chris Matthews/Hardball, etc). I'm interested in any suggestions you all might have for what to say on the air. I probably won't have much time, and of course I have plenty of my own ideas, but I'll consider other suggestions.

Read this: The no jobs president

The Bush years are a study in deliberately wasted effort: Repeal of the estate tax. Tax exemption for stock dividends. Ballistic Missile Defense. The USA PATRIOT Act. The war on Iraq. Each of these initiatives has a clientele. None of them seriously aims to achieve its stated goal, be that economic recovery or homeland security or national security writ large.

The method is clear to any who choose to study closely: It is a method of subterfuge and deception. It is the systematic and relentless pursuit of partly hidden agendas, sold to the public with slogans. The tax cuts were not aimed to produce recovery and jobs; they were a reward to the rich. The war on Iraq was not waged to help the war on terror; it was about getting Saddam, as we have now had confirmed by Paul O'Neill's report on the Iraq agenda Bush carried from the beginning. Missile defense is not about North Korea, and still less about Iran or any other "rogue state"; it's about the contracts. In all these cases, the decision on what to do came first -- then the circumstances of the day were arranged to suit.

So it is today on the economy. What does Bush want? He wants a growth rate high enough to get him through the election. That's obvious. After that, he doesn't care. His clientele -- the military contractors, oil companies, pharmaceutical firms and big media that control this government -- make their money on patents, contracts and the exercise of monopoly power. (Case in point: Bush is pressuring impoverished Central Americans, in trade negotiations, to add 10 years to the length of drug patents.) These people have no interest in full employment. They like unemployment, weak labor, low wages and a government that bullies on their behalf. And after the election, if Bush wins, that is what they will get for four more years.


James K. Galbraith
posted by y2karl at 3:35 PM on January 20, 2004


what y2k said: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs...(and if it's Frank Luntz doing it, ask why they stopped calling him "Republican pollster")...
I'll watch--which one will you be? : >
posted by amberglow at 4:00 PM on January 20, 2004


Sounds good... I'll try to get some jobs comments in. I'll be the guy in a black suit, blue shirt, maroon tie, brown hair with glasses. Heading to the studio now. Will try not to make an ass of myself.
posted by sreilly at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2004


Ask Frank Luntz if he's done a poll about his hair. For someone whose job is to fell the pulse of people, how can he justify that thing on his head?
Oh, you wanted to try not to make an ass of yourself...
posted by superchris at 4:44 PM on January 20, 2004


I think he has alopecia or something, superchris...he always seems to have painted-on eyebrows too.
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM on January 20, 2004


I'm listening to it now...

Can't tell if this is a state of the union address, or a real bad comedy routine. I loved it when a few dozen people applauded at a point that wasn't scheduled.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:19 PM on January 20, 2004


That applause was from Congresscritters who oppose the PATRIOT act. It's also the only time I can remember Congresscritters clapping when they weren't "supposed" to during the State of of the Union.

Can anyone else remember another time? I'm a youngin', so my memory's short.
posted by botono9 at 6:22 PM on January 20, 2004


Bush is avoiding the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" by saying instead "weapons of mass murder". Same thing, innit?

You may very well be right, botono. Certainly the first time in recent memory that rebellion during the SotU was so noticeable. I wonder if the secret service guys grabbed the ones who applauded inappropriately and dragged them out back for a good old fashioned whippin'.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:29 PM on January 20, 2004


that was wonderful! I was shocked, and pleasantly surprised--maybe they're getting the message we're not happy? I don't remember it ever happening. (and meanwhile wasn't the endless war theme last year's?)
posted by amberglow at 6:30 PM on January 20, 2004


now he sounds just like Dean did last night ; >
posted by amberglow at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2004


Is anyone else playing any SotU drinking games? I'm just getting drunk.
posted by botono9 at 6:32 PM on January 20, 2004


at what words do you take a shot? nuculur? god? evil?
posted by amberglow at 6:34 PM on January 20, 2004


Every time GW smirks during applause, you take a drink. That alone should get ya under the table.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:38 PM on January 20, 2004


Here's a drinking game for those searching. At this point you should probably just down 4-5 shots to catch up.
posted by botono9 at 6:41 PM on January 20, 2004


"measured measures"...? And he was talking about education when he said that.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:42 PM on January 20, 2004


I can't believe his smirk is back--we'll wipe it off his face in the election.

and this is pretty good--real-time debunking
posted by amberglow at 6:44 PM on January 20, 2004


so, closing schools that are overworked and truggling with 2o year old books is Bound to up the curve, poor schools will all close so those that are left will be well funded,

If little bobbie went to a poor school is just too unlucky to be from a good school.

to bad Bobbie. guess your daddy was to stupid to get you in a good school.
posted by Elim at 6:44 PM on January 20, 2004


Damn looks like by my spelling I came from that struggling school.
posted by Elim at 6:45 PM on January 20, 2004


soon comes the "sanctity of marriage" thing...

and we got it, Elim : > (a lot of schools aren't participating in Bush's thing anyway--there's no way to if you have disabled or special ed. kids, they say)
posted by amberglow at 6:50 PM on January 20, 2004


In any SofU the opposing side of the aisle is always quieter than the side that actually has a president in the white house, but I don't recall it THIS divided. There's been at least four times when people applauded or reacted in ways that were obviously not planned. The dems are for the most part sitting on their hands, and only standing up when GW says (perhaps by sheer chance) something upon which both sides can agree. Like when he said politicians should be better stewards of the people's money.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:50 PM on January 20, 2004


This is really just a republican pep rally anyway--this "uniter" doesn't know how, or have any desire to. Ah! Rangel's pretending to sleep : >
posted by amberglow at 6:53 PM on January 20, 2004


Yeah I saw that, Amberglow. For some, GW's better than Nyquil.

Every time they cut to Edward Kennedy, he's either shaking his head or looking towards heaven. The guy picked the wrong millenium to quit drinking.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:56 PM on January 20, 2004


I know I'm mad-as-hell about steroid use rather than Osama bin Laden and the lack of MsMD. Thanks, George!
posted by interrobang at 6:57 PM on January 20, 2004


this is it--amendment against gay marriage : < (and santorum is a closet case)
posted by amberglow at 6:59 PM on January 20, 2004


And we have "sanctity of marriage"!
posted by botono9 at 6:59 PM on January 20, 2004


Santorum looks pleased with the speech. I'll bet Moon is too.
posted by homunculus at 7:02 PM on January 20, 2004


He's pushing abstinence during the SotU? Well at least he's gonna get the Pope's vote. Too bad the Pope lives in Italy. ...and he just ticked off the gay vote....

So okay now if you're muslim or jew or christian you're okay, but pagans aren't included in this support he's talking about? What about people who worship soda machines?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:02 PM on January 20, 2004


this is good too, from American Progress

they're evil, zach, like us gays ; >
posted by amberglow at 7:03 PM on January 20, 2004


Oi. Is the separation of church and state completely gone?
posted by botono9 at 7:06 PM on January 20, 2004


Don't worry Botono. It'll be back come November.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:07 PM on January 20, 2004


Prepared text of the speech.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:07 PM on January 20, 2004


I wonder if any member of the mainstream press will actually present an analysis of the speech. You know, fact vs. fiction.
posted by botono9 at 7:07 PM on January 20, 2004


sreilly is going to be on msnbc soon -- i wonder if he'll get to ask a question. Ah, Pat Buchanan just called it a republican convention acceptance speech.
posted by amberglow at 7:08 PM on January 20, 2004


Ah, CBS seems to think that Bush "trumped" the Democrats by not mentioning NASA... stellar. And they think he's "a much better public speaker than the was a year ago." No question. He's mastered the podium.
posted by botono9 at 7:10 PM on January 20, 2004


Who needs msnbc when ya got MeFi?

Okay, the bit about Ashley Pearson. Corny or classy?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:11 PM on January 20, 2004


corny--but it's the law: they have to mention at least one real person per state of the union. It would have been nice for him to actually have the family of a dead soldier or something there.
posted by amberglow at 7:13 PM on January 20, 2004


I was dissapointed in that moment where people applauded at the mention of the expiration of the "patriot" act. Bush's speechwriters set that moment up, deliberately, and I think we got zinged.

I was very happy with Ted Kennedy's reactions, though.
posted by interrobang at 7:14 PM on January 20, 2004


or wounded soldiers brought in from Walter Reed...

Chris Mathews is all about the marriage thing
posted by amberglow at 7:15 PM on January 20, 2004


Well, the head of the Iraqi governing council was a good move. Who the hell isn't going to stand up and clap for that shit?
posted by botono9 at 7:15 PM on January 20, 2004


And now the democratic response: Edward Kennedy raspberries for thirty minutes.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:16 PM on January 20, 2004


interrobang: I would agree that we got zinged, but I would still say that the unexpected applause was great. The PATRIOT act does more to chip away at civil rights than it does to fight terrorism, and I'd applaud those who applauded out of turn.
posted by botono9 at 7:18 PM on January 20, 2004


It's tricky for the minority: the president might say stuff in the SotU that tows his party's line, but then he'll say something like, "there is air and we breathe it." The minority looks like idiots if they applaud or don't applaud at just the right time.

The Patriot act exists precisely because of this peer pressure thing. Certainly no one would question preserving freedom, but that doesn't mean giving up the rights that describe and define that freedom in the name of security. If not cautious, the democrats may allow the republicans to paint them as being unpatriotic, because they won't support laws named after patriots. It's childish, schoolyard tactics, but it's how the republicans pushed it through, and it may be how they keep it going.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:25 PM on January 20, 2004


Daschle's doing well
posted by amberglow at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2004


ZachsMind and botono9: yes, I know. And I agree that the - all in caps, like DEATH STAR and GALACTIC EMPIRE - PATRIOT act is evil.

I just think that a trap was set up precisely for this purpose - to make anyone who applauded look short-sighted and "weak on terror", and they fell into it. That's all.
posted by interrobang at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2004


Um, I'm watching the Democratic "response", and can someone please tell me what in the hell this "Democracy is Fun! -- An Introduction for Soccer Moms" shit came from? Did some underpaid intern forget to bring them their balls? Why in the hell are they on the defensive? "We love the troops, we just want you to know that." God this placating crap is infuriating.

Here's what the Democratic response should have been:
"Everything that guy said was bullshit. Thank you."

Instead we get this rambling mamby-pamby let's-hold-hands bullshit. If the Republicans walk all over us in November, I'm moving to Canada. This place is completely fucked, and not because of Bush but because of the morons who have decided to let go of the reigns and let the jackasses run free.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:31 PM on January 20, 2004


they were being optimistic Civil...i think it worked--they spoke about opportunity, as opposed to Bush, who spoke of war and his twisted version of morality.
posted by amberglow at 7:35 PM on January 20, 2004


interrobang: Well, all caps as in ACRONYM, anyway. All I'm saying is trap or not trap, it think it's grand of them to dissent so during such a visible event. Those who might think them short sighted for doing so probably already think that. I don't know that that round of applause changed anyone's mind, but it certainly made my chest swell with pride.
posted by botono9 at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2004


Why in the hell are they on the defensive?

They've been that way since the White House started spinning 9/11. It's pathetic.
posted by homunculus at 7:37 PM on January 20, 2004


The line that caught me the most was the one about the World Trade Center bombing. The wording of that segment was deliberate: the first WTC bombing led to the capture of (note) "some" of those responsible, and yet (note) eight years later the WTC was attacked again. In other words, Clinton clearly failed to defend America in a way I have even though I haven't caught Osama bin Laden.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:17 PM on January 20, 2004


My fave moments: the implication that only Ba'athists and Saddam supporters ("with help from outside terrists") are fighting our freedom bringers in Iraq. You know the bastages that cowardly ran away from overwhelming force and now fight from the shadows? The other thing I loved was the rosy view of Afganistan. What a shining Democracy we've built. And here I was under the impression that only about a third of the country wasn't under warlord or Taliban control, and that their heroin production was well above pre-Taliban levels.

I did adore the sanctity of marraige shtick, though. I'm glad we're going to amend our Constitution to protect marraige against deviant queeros, instead of like, you know, divorce and shit. I do kinda wonder, however, at what point our document of fundamental organization and writ by which we have rule of law became a holy pistile? Anyone want to clue me in how I missed that? Anyhoo, it was Clinton's fault. You heard GW say that, right?
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:46 PM on January 20, 2004


... and even though the second attack on the WTC happened under my watch, and even though Al Qaeda continues to be a threat, and even though...
posted by botono9 at 8:46 PM on January 20, 2004


Wow.
posted by homunculus at 9:15 PM on January 20, 2004


tows his party's line

just call AAA for a toe.
posted by quonsar at 9:18 PM on January 20, 2004


Re : the Democrat's defensiveness - Bill Clinton said, quite pointedly last year, "It's better to be wrong and strong than weak and right".

Listen up, silly fools.
posted by troutfishing at 9:32 PM on January 20, 2004


ACLU Urges Congress to Reject Bush Call to Make Patriot Act Permanent
posted by homunculus at 9:37 PM on January 20, 2004


I missed it--so, did he knock over Cheney's glass of water or not?

The other thing I loved was the rosy view of Afganistan.

Don't you mean Kabulistan?
posted by y2karl at 10:12 PM on January 20, 2004


BBC's headline for their story on the speech is perfect: Bush launches US re-election bid
posted by amberglow at 5:44 AM on January 21, 2004


a very telling word count and analysis of the speech: "No one can now doubt the word of America"
posted by amberglow at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2004


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