State of the Union 2004

Tonight is the night that our President will be delivering his annual State of the Union address. There have been many news items giving a general idea of what President Bush will be talking about in his speech tonight.

The State of the Union address has long been regarded as one of the most important annual events in the American presidency. With our current President, his SOTU speeches have been closely watched, due to the events - especially regarding foreign policy and war - that have been occurring within the past few years.

The 2002 State of the Union came just a few months after the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11th. Because of this the usual opposition party rebuttal was light, and the Democrats did not strongly criticize President Bush, like they normally would have. (The rebuttal to the SOTU 2002, delivered by then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), can be found here.) Some parts of the administration's new agenda, however, worried some on the Right (as well as the Left), and there was some concern with regard to parts of the President's foreign and domestic policy proposals.

In last year's State of the Union address, which proved to be even more controversial than the previous one, there were also many issues that were addressed, and while many conservatives were happy with the speech, there was some dissatisfaction with some of the proposals that the President was addressing. While many social, fiscal, and foreign policy issues were addressed by the President, the main issue that was on many of our minds had to do with the potential war with Iraq. The State of the Union speech occurred during my American Foreign Policy class, and we watched it that night. We had been given a list of proposed criteria for intervention, and our assignment, after watching the address, was to analyze how the President's words compared to those criteria.

At that point, President Bush had not committed to taking our country to war with Iraq, and there was still some thought that the conflict could be resolved peacefully. Many senior Pentagon officials (the non-civilians) were against the war (or were urging caution), and even in the following month (February), some White House advisors looking for a "way out" of the war scenario.

After we did end up going to war, and after "victory" was declared in early May, there were many controveries that arose, due to the claims that were made by the administration prior to the war, including those in the State of the Union. Both sides in the war situation attempted to use the 2003 State of the Union address to their political advantage.

In the address tonight, President Bush will definitely attempt to justify and defend his administration's actions in Iraq, and address other foreign and domestic policy issues. I hope that in his defense of the war, he focuses mainly on the issue of the security and safety of our people, on issues directly pertaining to our "national interest." I have to leave for class now, but I wanted to do an entry before the speech... It will be interesting to analyze what is said tonight, and what the reaction to it, from our fellow Americans, and from those around the world, will be - in the near future, and in the weeks and months ahead.

Posted by Aakash at January 20, 2004 6:40 PM