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January 23, 2007

Quick SOTU comments
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Looking back over my notes while he's still talking:

as a speechwriter, I find this speech very odd.  It has no discernible structure... no transitions between subjects... and incredibly few policy specifics, even for a 7th-year president.

And is the rhetoric flat or is it just me?  The first thing I thought he got really into was the immigration line "without animosity and without amnesty."  First thing I thought he really cared about.

My visiting friends point out that "extending hope and opportunity" is what passes for a frame.  Hmmmm.

I wonder how many regular folks care that this is a "decisive ideological struggle" any more?  I just find the pitching of this really odd -- it's as if they're just lost track of who the audience is.

What do you suppose the Special Advisory Council is supposed to get him?  I read it in the excerpts and I still don't get it.

Apologies to my readers who don't like partisan, whiny commentary.  There's just not much else to be said here.


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I am an American by choice (got my citizenship 18 years ago), I was reminded again why I chose to be a proud American when President gave his best speech today. I loved the selection of people in the balcony when he introduced them. Each of them was inspirational and representation of American spirit. How wonderful that President chose to describe this wonderful county like that.

I loved his gentlemaness when crediting his fierce enemy, Speaker Pelosi (I could tell she was moved and touched by his remarks, did you noticed how she shock his hand later...tell a lot how surprised she was)..

I loved when he talked about Africa and reminded again how generous this nation can be and have been. Bono will be proud...I hope The African American community give him at least this credit (Where are you Oprah?)

Yes! I am a big president Fan ( I proudly part of his 30% rating)..One must be a Middle Eastern to appreciate what he is doing in the Middle East. For years American policy was to support dictators in the region and did not care about their society and their people. Now we have an American president that cares about having a "free society" there and he is having hard time selling that idea. What is wrong with this picture?

Jan, if you haven't grown up with our culture you may still not understand our politics.

US politicians lie a lot. Nixon himself said, "Don't look at what we say, look at what we do."

Reagan said he was going to reduce the size of the federal government and the amount it interfered with people's lives. I believed him. Then I talked to a professioonal fisherman in florida. They had traditionally fished by a system of shares. The owner of the boat got a big share of the catch, and each member of the crew got a share. They weren't employees, they were, ah, sharecroppers. But now the federal government was ruling that they had to be employees, they had to get a fixed salary with health benefits etc. The boat owners couldn't afford that and were going out of business, and the sharecroppers couldn't find work. I said, "Reagan's government wouldn't do that! They want less government interference!" He gave a bitter laugh. He was a Republican and he'd voted for Reagan, but he said he wouldn't do it again.

What has Bush done about the dictators in the middle east that the US government has been supporting? Has he reduced the support? Has he threatened to reduce the support? Has he told the CIA to give less support to their torture-prone secret police? No, he's talked like he's going to do something someday.

Maybe Bush does care about having a free society in egypt or lebanon or israel etc. Once when Clinton was agreeing to preserve some minor relics of US forests -- which loggers depended on cutting down for their jobs -- he told the loggers "I feel your pain". He was widely ridiculed for saying that, because the media was against him and it cost him nothing to tell the loggers he cared about them. Maybe Bush really does care about relatively dark-skinned people in the middle east. Look at what he's done for them.

Mr. Thomas,
so far he has done more with Iran as compare to Clinton disaster years, when all they did was to apologize to Iranian Mullahs. He has done more for Afghanistan than any other American president. Look at Kabul right, things ARE improving. Maybe not to your standards, and things are not perfect at all. But they are in the right direction. Look at Lebanon, Syrians are very nervous there and they have less control there than before. Our bases in Saudi Arabia is not as big as before..these are all small steps, but they are the steps toward building the "free society"...Yes, fortunately, I am not your typical American who thinks war and foreign policies are Hollywood movies and must have a happy ending at the end of the two hours.

Jan, we clearly are getting our information from different sources. I would like to believe that your sources are better than mine. They certainly sound like you're living in a nicer world than I am.

How does reducing our presence in saudi arabia improve human rights or democracy there? That sounds to me like it has little to do with the issue, what we call a non sequitur.

In Kabul things are probably better. But, ah, the russians intervened in an afghan regional war -- they supported the northern warlords against the southern ones. The northerners said they were good socialists. We then supported the southern ones until the russians left, and after that we ignored them.

Later we demanded that the southerners give us Bin Ladin and when they didn't, we supported the northerners in a takeover bid. The northerners said they were good democrats. With our help they took over as much of afghanistan as they had with russian support, and....

How are we being different from the russians? We did get an international coalition, and we're doing it on the cheap and with far smaller forces. Far less economic aid. Do you figure that the democratic Northern Alliance is very different from the socialist Northern Alliance? I'd be glad to hear more about them.

Would you attribute increased democracy in lebanon to something Bush did? I don't right off see it, but I could be persuaded.

Iraq, where Bush has focused his attention, would seem to me to show his intentions particularly well. Garner tried to set up local democracies with little planning or backup, he was immediately replaced by Bremer who did everything he could to stop it, when Bremer was removed Sistani managed to get a sort of democracy despite us. Now we're unofficially talking about removing them unless they cooperate better.

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