It’s sweeps week, all the networks are pulling out all the stops on their shows to get ratings. And no better example of that than the executive branch’s effort to boost its ratings, last night’s State of the Union address. I know all of you were watching and taking notes, so I won’t bore you with discussing every single point. But like any good journalist, I cannot cover an event without making you think what I think.
Rules: Take a shot every time President George W. Bush says “free/ freedom,” “terror/ terrorists,” “evil,” “Iran,” “education,” “nuclear (or derivative thereof),” “trade” or “tax.” Those who wish to play the full version of the game, take a shot every time there is a standing ovation, a special guest is on camera, a Democrat is on camera, the Supreme Court is on camera.
Here are the highlights:
Isolationism, a word the American people haven’t heard since World War II, was revived for Bush’s address. In fact, the word was said three different times. Other words revived in the speech were “moxie,” “toots,” “keen” and “Jap.”
There was an unmistakable change of tone for the president’s speech. In previous States of the Union, Bush had adopted an “I hit you because I love you,” tone. This time around, with sagging poll ratings, Bush aimed to swing dissenters back over by appealing to both sides of the political spectrum.
“In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom (SHOT) – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy (SHOT) – or shut ourselves off from trade (SHOT) and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends in danger and decline.”
Later on, terrorism was brought up:
“Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, (SHOT) and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists (SHOT) have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists (SHOT) hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. (Reference to the Bible, SHOT) But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, (SHOT) and we will fight to keep it.”
“… The same is true of Iran, (SHOT) a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists (SHOT) in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon -- and that must come to an end. (Standing ovation, SHOT) The Iranian (SHOT) government is defying the world with its nuclear (SHOT) ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian (SHOT) regime to gain nuclear (SHOT) weapons. … Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran (SHOT): America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom (SHOT). And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free (SHOT) and democratic Iran (SHOT).”
Everyone knows that the State of the Union address is annual game of Simon Says between the president, or “Simon,” and the legislative and judicial branches. (He finished a paragraph; that means we have to stand up and clap!) But not since Vice President Dan Quayle has anyone been called out. That is, until last night.
“Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security – (the Democrats give a standing ovation, SHOT) – yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (The Republicans give a standing ovation, SHOT.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.”
You see what Bush did there? He just called out all of the Democrats. They all had to sit in the corner and wait until the end of the speech before they could get up and play again.
But in every State of the Union address, there is one topic that is included as a curveball. In years past, it has been the man on Mars mission, the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage. This year, “America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.”
An understatement, but nonetheless, a different topic for Bush.
“So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative – a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research – at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy.”
Alright, he’s giving you an extra $15.3 million. A drop in the bucket by federal standards. Now you can go out to lunch more often.
The speech ended with a standing ovation (SHOT). Bush then left the podium and began his handshaking out of the room. Bush’s entourage trailed behind him, and as he had been on the entrance, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) was at his side like a groupie. This guy is running in 2008.
Are you still conscious? SHOT