Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Wednesday, January 21, 2004  

A few further thoughts on the State of the Union. Last year's speech was one of the purest examples of ideological rhetoric we've heard from the President. He and his hooting GOP brethren were fairly shoving the Democrats' noses in their pre-war triumph. On the eve of an optional war, the President last year had a lot of big talk. This year a mollified Bush sifted through what rare successes he could find (or manufacture) in the aftermath of that failed optional war. The GOP stood and cheered, but rarely did their voices rise to a hoot.

I decided to jot down a few notes during the speech. Here you go--

Throughout most of the Iraq and terror section, the GOP side of the assembled rarely offered more than polite applause. A few seal-like orps emerged when he mentioned tax relief at the start, and then everyone seemed to brace themselves until he got to domestic issues.

The President continued to suggest that his invasion of Iraq had more than a passingly personal quality. He twice flashed his schoolboy smirk in the speech--first when he was building to the news of Saddam's capture, then when he boasted of Saddam sitting in a prison cell.

"Weapons of mass murder?" A new bit of jargon, or just something to break up the monotony?

This was just pathetic: "Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations. Had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day." Who you trying to fool, George?

When he mentioned the renewal of the Patriot Act, it seemed like I heard some cheers interrupting Bush after the first sentence: "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year." Maybe it was just me. In response, the GOP reared up like good seals after he got to the punchline--"You need to renew the Patriot Act"--and orped especially loudly.

During the section on gay marriage, the camera flashed to Rick Santorum. Did everyone crack up then, too?

During that embarrassing section where he told the story of the ten-year-old who'd written to praise the troops, the camera panned to some soldiers in fatigues. They seemed completely nonplussed, only remembering to clap a few seconds after the rest of the crowd had already begun.

I haven't had time to investigate these claims, but they seem suspect (see what happens when you lie in a SotU--people don't believe you the next time around).

1. Bush made this claim: "This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq."

Is that true? Are there troops from 34 countries there?

2. Referring to the Congress's actions, Bush said: "You have doubled the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, reduced the marriage penalty, begun to phase out the death tax, reduced taxes on capital gains and stock dividends, cut taxes on small businesses, and you have lowered taxes for every American who pays income taxes."

Is that true? I was under the (possibly false) impression that many lower-income Americans saw exactly diddly in the way of tax cuts. At least the childless ones.

3. "Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise."

This one is pushing it. In a country with 150 million workers, you're going to create jobs every month. But "on the rise" means more jobs each month, right? Hmmm.

All right, that's probably more than enough for this year.

posted by Jeff | 10:58 AM |
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