State Of The Union Liveblogging 2006

Once again, I put my sanity on the line to live blog the annual State of the Union address, beginning at 8:00PM CST.

And while I won’t be following in the traditions of drunkblogging like the inestimable VodkaPundit, I am having a nice tall pilsner glass filled with delicious Schell’s Beer.

UPDATE: Cindy Sheehan has been arrested by Capitol Police for exceeding her fifteen minutes of fame… I almost wish they’d let them in. The sight of her shrieking and trying to disrupt the SOTU would make her look like the loon she really is – a vulture using the corpse of her son (who was a true hero for his actions) as a shield against criticism. The Capitol Police arrested her for trying to bring in an anti-war banner.

7:58PM CST: President Bush is always punctual, so we should be starting quite soon. Vice President Cheney is at the Speaker’s dais with Speaker Hastert.

8:00PM CST: Laura Bush has arrived. A woman in a headscarf is next to her – possibly someone from Iraq.

The Sargeant of Arms has announced the arrival of the Supreme Court – including Justice Alito, sworn in today.

The designated survivor is Jim Nichols, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. If everyone else is killed, he assumes the Presidency – AKA, he becomes Laura Roslin. Fortunately, the chances of Cylon attack seem quite slim.

8:08PM CST: President Bush arrives in the House chambers – a bit later than usual.

And again, the President wears a blue tie, in contrast to the usual Washington red power ties.

8:11PM CST: Ah, the smirk Democrats love to hate…

8:12PM CST: Bush opens with a memorial to Coretta Scott King. A very nice touch.

8:14PM CST: Bush opens with a call for civility in government. He promises to do his part. Sadly, I don’t think it will impact the poisonous partisanship in Washington much at all.

Bush is speaking out directly against protectionism and isolationism. It is interesting how the protectionist impulses formerly associated with the far right have become a staple of the far left. We can’t retreat behind Fortress America any longer – and Bush is right to point that out.

8:16PM CST: Again, the crux of Bush’s historic and in some ways radical vision is tying the freedom of the world to the security of the United States. For all the President’s flaws, that singular visions is the right one for our time. Democracy and freedom are linked. Bush mentioned Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran as places where the United States will push for freedom. It’s about time.

8:18PM CST: Bush reiterates the threat of terrorism in no uncertain words. He’s starting out quite strong. “We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.”

“There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat.” Amen to that. We are fighting in a battle of ideas, and our courage and convictions are the greatest weapon we have. “We will never surrender to evil.” This bit is almost Churchillian.

8:20PM CST: Bush states that we are proud to be the allies of the Iraqi people in the cause of freedom. For those of us who have watched Iraq develop, we tend to feel that way.

“The road to victory is the road that will take our troops home.” Again, as many flaws as Bush has, I’m quite glad he has the fortitude to see this war to victory.

Bush is speaking out against defeatism in this war. There are some harsh, but necessary words. Senator Kerry simply looks at his shoes while Bush speaks.

8:26PM CST: Bush reads a letter from a fallen solder, SSgt. Dan Clay of the USMC, killed in Fallujah. His family is in the gallery behind the First Lady.

The care and concern the President has for America’s troops is always evident when he speaks of them. It’s genuine, and it helps to humanize this conflict. The idea that Bush is some heartless monster never really matches what we can see in his face.

8:29PM CST: Bush challenges both Mubarak (in couched words), and the Hamas government of Palestine (in no uncertain terms). He speaks of Saudi Arabia and asks them to press forward with reform. He’s right to point out that Middle Eastern democracies may not look like our own, but they must be free.

And now Bush speaks to Iran. Bush demands that Iran end their support for Hizb’Allah and end their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Bush speaks directly to the people of Iran. He speaks of a close friendship between the US and free and democratic Iran. I hope that comes true during my lifetime, and hopefully it will.

8:32PM CST: Bush talks of foreign aid, and American compassion abroad.

And now the President speaks to the issue of national security.

8:33PM CST: Bush calls for a reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, which will piss off civil libertarians, but is ultimately the right thing to do.

Bush speaks directly speaks to the NSA wiretapping issue. This is a major political winner for the President. “We will not sit back and wait to be hit again.” A line that reinforces what people already know – that the President is steadfast on defending this country. This might be the definitive line on this issue.

8:37PM CST: Hillary Clinton has a look on her face like “Soon, all this will be mine!”…

8:38PM CST: Bush speaks to the American economy. Bush really needs to show some real vision here. He’s right in pointing out that protectionism and government centralization aren’t the solutions here.

Bush argues that we can’t function without immigrant labor – which gets a standing ovation. Is trying to control immigration really tantamount to isolationism? Bush needs to get out in front of the illegal immigration issue, and I don’t see any sign of that here, which may hurt him.

8:40PM CST: Bush is advocating for making the tax cuts permanent. I have a feeling that Bush won’t get much popular traction here, but those tax cuts will be made permanent. Congress doesn’t want to get caught when everyone finds that their tax bills have gone up. Tax cuts are almost always solid policy.

Bush is stating that we’ll cut the deficit in half by 2009. That seems a bit optimistic to me. I’d like to see a stronger push for fiscal rectitude.

At least Bush did push for earmark reform – Bush is also asking for the line-item veto. Senator McCain is beaming at this point – and personally, I’m with him 110% on that one.

Bush talks of entitlement reform – with a nice joke about the relationship between his dad and President Clinton. A nice humanizing moment for the President.

8:43PM CST: Bush challenges the Democrats after they cheer on killing Social Security reform. What a dumb move for the Democrats. Denying the problem is politically idiotic. Especially when Bush follows up with a call to abandon partisan politics to get this problem solved. Bush isn’t pushing for private accounts, which may be a smart move for him at this point. However, even if we get the option to invest in Treasury Bonds or another government-backed security, having Social Security funds go into a personal rather than a general account is a valuable first step.

8:46PM CST: Bush now speaks out on health care. He’s rushing through some important lines here. Bush also speaks about the value of IT in healthcare, a subject that both Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton have been pushing. Bush talks about making health care portable, which is a key component of real reform in healthcare. Bush also demands medical liability reform, mentioning that 1500 American counties do not have a single OB-GYN.

8:48PM CST: “America is addicted to oil.” True, but that’s as much due to physics as it does with behavioral trends. More about “clean” coal. I’d really like to see a much more spirited defense of nuclear energy. If we’re to have a 21st Century economy, we need nuclear energy. No other energy source is as practical, especially with the advent of safe, clean, and efficient pebble bed reactor technology. I really wish Bush had hit on that and started a real program to advance America’s power generation capacity.

Bush is promising 75% less Middle Eastern oil by 2020. I hope we can do better than that.

8:50PM CST: Bush is flogging more funding for math and science education. More money for research, which is not necesarily a bad idea. But if Bush were really visionary, I’d like to see him offer something along the lines of The X-Prize for various breakthroughs like affordable hydrogen, nanotech, etc.

Bush is stating that we need to encourage kids to take math and science. Bush is promising 70,000 new math and science AP teachers. This is typical SOTU stuff, but at least there’s an essential vision there. The fact is that the market is demanding more math and science education, and the market does more to influence people’s choices than government.

8:53PM CST: Bush highlights the positive direction this country has been taking: fewer abortions, less crime, fewer teenage pregnancy. Bush states that governmnent has a played a role, specifically naming welfare reform. I’ll give him that, but the reality is that social mores are far more influential than government.

8:55PM CST: Bush seems to be rushing a bit vocally, stumbling at a few points. I like the optimism Bush displays here, but the rhetoric here doesn’t quite rise to the level of Reagan speech.

Bush gives a nice send-off to Sandra Day O’Connor.

8:57PM CST: Bush speaks out on bioethics, which really appeal to only a few.

Bush now speaks out on ethics on government. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind him going after his own party just a bit. Sadly, it’s just a line. I’d like to see Bush truly link the power of government to corruption in government – following Lord Acton. Sadly, Bush just isn’t that type of conservative.

8:59PM CST: Bush speaks out on the aftermath of Katrina. There’ are some good lines here, but not a great deal of substance.

Bush speaks out against AIDS, and calls for the reauthorization of the Ryan White Act. This is an area where Bush does feel strongly, not that he’ll get much political credit for it. The problem with “ending the stigma” of AIDS is that a certain amount of stigmatization can prevent people from contracting it.

9:02PM CST: Bush talks about this turning point in history – this bit is a nice capstone to his speech.

Just under an hour – not a bad job at all. Further reactions and analysis to follow.

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