Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bush Urges Confidence in His Leadership

President Bush reacts as he looks up to the audience during his visit to the Grand Ole Opry House, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2006, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Here's another campaign-style stump speech from Der Leader. This is from Yahoo News:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - President Bush said Wednesday he understands why the nation he has led for five years has become more anxious, and he urged people to have confidence in him.

Bush maintained his optimistic message in a lengthy speech at the Grand Ole Opry House that was designed to build momentum from the previous night's State of the Union address. But in a rare acknowledgment of the troubled times on his watch, he tried to show empathy with the public's worries.

"People are uncertain, in spite of our strong union, because of war, and I understand that," Bush said.

Bush said he is leading a strong nation that is protecting itself and spreading freedom. He said the economy is "roaring," despite concerns that people have after being forced to change jobs in the face of competition from China, India and elsewhere.

"My worry is that people see that uncertainty and decide to adopt isolationist policies or protectionist policies," Bush said. "In other words, in uncertain times it's easy for people to lose confidence in the capacity of this country to lead and to shape our future."

Bush said America's challenge is to stay ahead of competition without withdrawing from the world. He planned to expand his thoughts on the issue in a tour to Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas on Thursday and Friday.

Bush's laid out his entire agenda in the 57-minute speech, going even beyond his State of the Union address. He touched on everything from war and education to technology in the automobile industry and medical malpractice suits.

The friendly audience at the packed Grand Ole Opry House frequently interrupted the president with applause and laughter. Among the crowd were several country music stars, including Barbara Mandrell, Larry Gatlin, Lee Greenwood, Lorrie Morgan and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Bush joked that he should have given the State of the Union at the hall. "How cool would it be to give a State of the Union address in a Porter Wagoner outfit?" he said, referencing the flashy singer who frequently played host on the stage.

Outside, more than 100 protesters held up their own signs that said "No Confidence" and "No warrant, no wiretap, no W." That was a reference to Bush's much-debated secret program of eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails in an attempt to sniff out terrorist plots, which he vigorously defended in his State of the Union address and inside the concert hall.

"Let me put it to you in Texan: If al-Qaida is calling into the United States, we want to know," Bush said.

Whatever your political views, or whether he should be placed on a pedestal, or thrown in jail, you have to admit that President Bush is consistent in delivering the same message--whether or not the American public believes him. It is The State of the Union Speech--Part 2 Now with New and Improved "I feel your pain," empathy--patented from Bill Clinton stump speeches. Everything about this speech was also designed for the election-style campaigning the president will be embarking on, in hopes of maintaining the Republican-controlled Congress. I mean--the site for this speech was a dead give-away. The Grand Ole Opry House--right in the heart of Nashville Tennessee--about as Republican "red state" as you can get. The Opry House was packed with Republicans only. The speech took place the day after the State of the Union speech. It is the same ole, laundry list of stale ideas and failed policies the Bush White House has been pushing on. It is one thing to understand that politics is involved with presidential appearances, and the State of the Union is one of the president's biggest political appearance for the country. But you have to marvel at how this Bush White House will place politics above everything else--including the state of this country.


On a side note, I found this small US News and World Report story, regarding Bush's post-SOTU bounce:

In a memo to Republican National Committee members, Republican pollster Matthew Dowd warned against looking for a pop in the instant polls following President Bush's State of the Union address.

"A story line has developed that says the president has to move his approval numbers coming out of the speech," he writes in the memo provided to U.S. News. "While all of us would welcome increased public approval, the history-both recent and the last 50 years–of poll movement around this event shows quite a different story."

In fact, he notes, of the eight State of the Unions given by Ronald Reagan, the polls showed a bump up after only one.

"In looking at poll movement before and after State of the Union addresses, the average over the last 50 years is actually a slight drop (0.2 percent). President Bush's average change is also a drop (0.4 percent). Only one of his SOTU addresses showed positive movement (2005), which is likely attributed to the intervening events of the 2005 Inaugural and January 2005 Iraqi elections," writes Dowd. He added: "All of this is important to keep in mind as pundits analyze and analyze and analyze the effects of President Bush's speech. Context is everything in politics."

So even the Republican strategists are not expecting any bounce in the president's poll numbers after his SOTU speech.

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