Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bush State of Union part of election-year strategy

President Bush answers questions, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006, during a news conference in the Brady Press Room at the White House. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

You have to love this. Also from Reuters News Service:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech will stress his optimistic vision for Iraq and the U.S. economy in a strategy aimed at giving Republicans a potential road map to victory in November and boosting his own weakened standing.

Sweeping proposals along the lines of his big Social Security revamp -- which fizzled after its high-profile roll-out a year ago -- were not expected in the annual speech on Tuesday night before millions watching on television.

Bush goes into the speech burdened by a stubbornly low job approval rating of about 43 percent, reflecting disapproval of his handling of the Iraq war and soaring gasoline prices.

The White House called the speech "thematic in nature."

"The president will have some new policies that he will talk about that will reflect the priorities that the American people care most about, but this is more of a visionary and directional speech than it is a laundry list of proposals," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Aides described the speech as optimistic in tone, saying he will argue as he has in many recent speeches that progress is being made in Iraq, and that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are sound despite an anemic growth rate of 1.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Yes SIR! It is the start of the constant campaign-style of governing. The Republican PR spin-meisters are already starting up their new election-year strategy of claiming everything is hunky-dorie. Progress is being made in Iraq--despite the fact that the Pentagon released a study showing the Army is cracking under the war strains. The economy is a success--despite the fact that economic growth came in at 1.1 percent, and the job market is in the pits. U.S. Middle East policy is in a shambles, with Iran ramping up their development of nuclear weapons, and the radical terrorist party Hamas won the democratic elections in the Palestine Authority territories. The Republican Party is embroiled in scandals after scandals, the American public is suspicious of the White House's continued defense of their illegal NSA domestic spying activities--now called "terrorist surveillance" program. Talk about a PR-spin here. Continuing on:

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said, "People really don't believe him (Bush) any more and that's a real problem for him."

"Americans think the state of the union is a pretty difficult state right now."

Rep. Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, told Fox, he expected Bush would return to Republican basics in the speech -- "limited government, fiscal discipline, strong defense and a commitment to traditional values."

Domestically, Bush is expected to focus on a package of initiatives to rein in the soaring cost of U.S. health care by expanding the use of tax-preferred savings accounts and giving tax breaks to Americans without employer-provided health insurance so they can purchase health plans on their own.


The initiatives will build on some measures already enacted by Congress. Bush may also revive some past proposals including a push to rein in malpractice insurance lawsuits.

Bush's challenge is to outline a plan that Republicans who control Congress can use to try to avoid what has been the historical norm -- the party in power loses seats in midterm elections, election years in which a president is not chosen.

"I'm expecting the reframing of priorities and outlining of goals that can be accomplished early in the year to give Republicans a platform to run on," said Republican strategist Scott Reed.

"Most people have made up their minds about him one way or the other, but there's still a persuadable group in the middle who can be convinced that he's doing a good job, who are not at this point convinced," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Political experts said Bush's challenge is to set the tone for the campaign year. Typically, Republican candidates would be largely in lock-step with their leader. But given Bush's weakened position, this year they will choose whether they want to latch on to his agenda or go off on their own.

Democrats eager to regain control of either the House of Representatives, the Senate or both were not waiting to hear the speech before criticizing him for a "growing credibility problem" manifested by an influence-peddling probe involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a major Republican fund-raiser.

"In his speech, the president needs to tell the American people what he is going to do to end the culture of corruption and lay out solutions that will make America strong," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

This whole speech will be about how to stem the losses, the American public's growing unease with the current Bush administration's performance, the continued revelations of Republican corruption, and hopefully to maintain Republican control of Congress. The question here is, does the Bush administration have enough power and influence to maintain the Republican control of Congress--even in the face of these scandals and problems, and the upcoming problems that will arise later this year? These problems are specifically the Tom DeLay trial, the Scooter Libby trial, the Enron trial of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, the ongoing Abramoff probe and whatever Abramoff tells the prosecutors in their investigation of corruption in Congress. And these are not the unkown wildcards that this country and government will face. And you can bet that the Democrats are not going to help the Republicans in pushing any type of legislative agenda for this election year.

Welcome to Campaign 2006.


nightshift66 said...

Although W beat the odds in 2002 in Congress (retaking the Senate and increasing R's in the House), that was obviously from the WTC attack. The question now will be whether or not the Repub machine is sufficient to whip up enough hysteria one more time to carry them past bungling, corruption, and policy failures. I would not have thought so... until I saw how truly craven most of the Democratic elected are. They are historicallly the party of the circular firing squad, and they are outdoing even themselves.

As for the SOTU, I (a news junkie) will not watch it and will avoid clips of it; watching him mutilate the English language is just too painful, and it isn't as though we can't already quote it from memory: things are great, stay the course, don't encourage the enemy, more tax cuts... sigh. I never dreamed in the 90's I would ever miss Slick Willie, but at least he was sane, sober, and coherent.

Eric A Hopp said...

Nightshift: Slick Willie's blow-job with Monica is a breath of fresh air, compared with the incompetence and scandals coming out of this administration. At least Clinton's indiscretions haven't caused the death of thousands of American citizens--both with Katrina and Iraq, and the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis.

I won't watch the State of the Union speech myself--not sure if I want to listen to it on the radio. It is going to be the same neocon White House PR-spin we've heard for the last five years. And I'm sure we're going to hear some pretty weak Democratic Party responses to this spin. If I had to make any predictions, the Republican PR-spinmeisters, along with their corporate-sponsered "liberal media," will probably maintain Bush's current job performance ratings at their current levels. This of course, is barring any sudden terrorist attack, or new revelations of incompetence in the Bush White House.

nightshift66 said...

I think that opinions on W have almost completely calcified. The 40% or so who are still with him cannot be persuaded by logic, reason, or experience; their support for him is completely 'faith-based,' I suppose. Most of the 50%+ who disapprove either always did or were capable of learning from experience and observation. Ergo, Duh isn't likely to move much in the polls(barring, as you say, new attacks or truly disastrous economic developments).

As for Willie, I don't care at all about the Monica thing, other than (1) he should have been more discrete and (2) it shouldn't have been someone who works for him. That's wrong all over. However, he gave/sold mainland China computer & missle technology that allowed them to target mainland US accurately for the first time. For THAT, I wanted him to fry. However, Duh & Dick are the first American citizens I have ever been willing to turn over to the Hague for trial as a war criminal, and I didn't think anyone could make me willing to do that.

Eric A Hopp said...

Nightshift: China would have gotten the missile and computer technology from either us, Britain, France, Germany, or Russia--not much we could have done about that. China has been on a shopping spree for advanced military equipment. They'll buy it from anyone who's willing to sell. Yes, Clinton was wrong for selling missile parts to China, and he probably should have been fried. But what "Duh and Dick" have done should allow this duo to be fried, hung, shot, gassed, electrocuted, and guillotened!