I believe that the President did a reasonably good job in delivering the SOTU and it seemed to be fairly well received. The interesting thing about this and all SOTU addresses is that if even one tenth of what is suggested is accomplished that would be quite a year. Thus, I doubt much of what he said will come to fruition, however I found a dynamic that was quite interesting. By analyzing when Bush received only friendly advice and when he received full applause we can see what issues the two parties will make contentious and where there is room to work.
I first noticed this when Bush talked about taxes. He alluded that the people know how to spend their own money better than the government and that as President he wouldn't allow the government to tax them anymore than they already are. Now, this seems like the sort of thing that both parties could get behind however in this case only the friendly Republicans applauded. Bush frankly framed this rather slyly and so by not applauding the Dems were indicating that they are for raising your taxes. Of course, we Republicans have always felt that way however it was interesting to see the Dems so overtly being for raising taxes.
There were some issues where there is no common ground like Iraq. On this issue, Bush received almost exclusive applause only from friendly forces. There were other issues where there was plenty of common ground like expanding research for AIDS in Africa which received applause from both sides throughout.
There were other issues that were more nuanced, like embryonic stem cell research. The President mentioned the discovery of a new form of stem cell research and he proclaimed that this discovery could lead to an end to the contentious issue and only the Reps applauded. Then, he began to talk about his unconditional opposition to any cloning and both sides applauded.
All mentions of the troops of course received applause from both sides, including plans to update and evolve VA treatment in light of the scandal last year. The troops are obviously one thing that each side supports enthusiastically and without hesitation.
The biggest surprise came in the overwhelming applause to one piece of Bush's speech toward AQI. Bush said that we will not back down from AQI and we will stay and finish them. Both sides applauded here. This is quite surprising since the Dems won't acknowledge that AQI is an enemy we need to defeat. They may have been caught up in the moment however their applause is also a tacit rejection of their entire position on Iraq.
The tax cuts may wind up being the most contentious domestic issue in the campaign. Bush received enthusiastic applause from his side when he called on making them permanent, and a cold stare from the other side.
The most interesting set of applause came in response to FISA. Bush called on Congress to make changes in FISA permanent (they expire Feb 1). This wasn't merely met with applause but in my estimation the most rousing applause of the evening from the Reps and again the Dems gave him a cold stare.
There is no chance this Congress will make the tax cuts permanent, however if the SOTU is any indication we are about to have a full out political brawl on FISA.
All in all I didn't mind the speech however I continue to be concerned by the rhetoric toward my business. Bush called on reform to Fannie Mae. Reform is another of those warm fuzzy words that mean nothing. Fannie Mae is the only portion of the market not to be hit. It really doesn't sound like they are the ones that need reform. If the President is not able to understand that dynamic and wants to target Fannie Mae even though Fannie is actually doing it right, that should scare everyone.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"