Capitol Building

Inside Politics -- Your guide to National and State Politics

Darrell West

Darrell West


Heard on
College Hill

Funding Our
Public Officials

Brown Policy Reports

Brown Polls

Financial Disclosure


RI Factbook


Contact Us

Site Search

Help Support this Site

Grading Bush's Speech (posted January 30, 2003)

President George W. Bush gave a forceful defense of his foreign and domestic policies during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Speaking for nearly an hour to a national and international audience, Bush defended his tax cut proposal and plans to confront Iraq leader Saddam Hussein and laid the ground for a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens and a new energy policy for the United States.

The strongest part of his speech and the section likely to be most well-received by the American public was his foreign policy. Confronting his critics directly, Bush laid out a methodical and legal-like set of reasons why the world community should not tolerate the Hussein regime. Broadening his rationale beyond the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, Bush noted Hussein's penchant for torturing his own people and employing rape as a tool for intimidation.

In so doing, Bush is using a justification similar to that employed by former President Bill Clinton for the U.S. decision to intervene in Bosnia. It is not just a military reason to take down Hussein, but a humanitarian rationale. Look for the administration to roll out chilling stories over the next weeks regarding Hussein's atrocies against his own people. By demonizing Saddam's regime, these stories will build public support for the Bush effort in Iraq.

The domestic section of Bush's speech does not earn such high marks though. For most past, the president's discussion of his tax cut, prescription drug proposal, and energy policy was much more partisan and geared to his Republican base. Many of his proposals represent ideas that have been around for a long time and generally have been stopped by Democrats. Public opinion polls already show that the public believes his tax plan is heavily tilted toward the wealthy. Even though Republicans control both the House and Senate, their margins are small enough, especially in the Senate, that some of these proposals are not likely to be enacted.

Understanding the controversial nature of many of his ideas, Bush clearly threw out a new plan for treating AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean that will be very popular among Republicans and Democrats. This idea is one long pushed by Secretary of State Colin Powell and is something Bush probably agreed to do for Powell since the president is giving short-shrift to diplomatic initiatives on Iraq.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services