January 23, 2007

State of the Union Address and the Democratic Response

President Bush Delivers his 7th Annual Report to Congress

President Bush, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, urged Congress to support his decision to add 21,500 troops in Iraq, saying, "I ask you to give it a chance to work." Mr. Bush also proposed plans to reduce gasoline consumption and expand health care coverage, and addressed education and immigration in his speech, delivered for the first time in his presidency to a Democratic-controlled Congress.

Here are links to SOTUS by President Bush and the Democrats response by James Webb (D-VA). VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT of Bush's SOTUS, and, here (Fox News). The Democrats' Response, and here (Fox News)

The Evolution of the President's Message

The State of the Union tradition began in 1790, when President George Washington delivered his first "annual message of the president." A few years later, President Thomas Jefferson thought that the tradition of speaking to Congress was "too royal" so he sent his annual message in a letter. This written tradition continued for a century.

In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson delivered his message in a speech to Congress. By 1945, FDR's speech formally became known as the "State of the Union" speech. The power of television and mass communication media have firmly established this annual tradition. There's lots of pageantry and planned posturing, but it is also an opportunity for both sides to score some political points. Yet, it is the President's hour to speak to the nation. Presidents have a great deal of power but perhaps the most important power they have it the power to persuade. They hold the biggest megaphone and when they speak everyone hears them--even if many people don't really listen or agree with them.

Obviously the popularity of the president affects his power to convince and how his message is received. Unfortunately for G.W. Bush, several polls that came out a couple days ago show that he's hovering around 28 to 34% approval ratings. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 75%, disapprove of his Iraq policy, including the latest escalation plans.

This is the first time for president Bush that he has to work with a Democratic House & Senate. In his 6 years in office, he used his veto only once--against stem cell research/funding. His veto stood. There is going to be lots of gridlock in the system in the next 2 years as the two branches fight for their agendas, but it is the Democrats who are more eager to pass legislation and win points with the American electorate. In less than 2 years, the whole House and 1/3 of the Senate are up for re-election, as well as the big prize: the White House.


Anonymous said...

I would agree with Chris Matthews, who said that, "perhaps for the first time since Ed Muskie delivered the Democratic address in 1970, the opposition response was stronger than the President's own state of the union address."

It'll be interesting to see how these two sides fight and what the American public will think of which side is the obstructionist.

Anonymous said...

Was the president trying to become a centrist now? It will interesting to see how he handles his low ratings in the next 2 years. I mean this man must be thinking about his legacy, and as of today it ain't looking all that good.

I think he IS convinced that he's doing the right thing and that history will prove him right.

politiko said...

But, the Republicans just lost big because of their president and their policies. And they had no excuse since they controlled the White House, the House and the Senate, and much of the federal judiciary.

They lost both chambers of Congress in 12 years! It took the Dems over 40 years to do the same. So, in a couple years the REpublicans will try to come back, and try to win the White House. I don't know how the party (and the presidential candidates) will be able to pressure Bush to act in a way to help their cause. Or, are Bush/Cheney care only about their own agenda since they won't be running for public office ever again....