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Not much to say for now. Much more later. Discuss amongst yourselves. I was pretty surprised by the soft on crime stuff about DNA testing.

February 2, 2005 | Permalink


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It almost seems as if Bush’s speeches have become better over the past four years. That’s not necessarily a matter of content but more the result of his growing confidence and the fact that events have moved his way. Having... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 3, 2005 2:36:01 AM


I don't reckon they'd charge you any extra on your web hosting to increase the font size of your blockquotes. Damn small.

Good work lately, btw. Like especially how you been advising Dems to step up the pressure and take the fight to Bush on social security. Attack and define the terms of the debate rather than wait and let Bush dictate terms.

Now that you're a poker pro 'n all, I'm sure you appreciate how your opponents don't move or show their hand until you put some heat on 'em and force a decision.


Posted by: dr | Feb 2, 2005 10:43:10 PM

Not his idea. The Innocence Protection Act, it's called. Civil liberties sorts have been trying to get it through Congress for years, and last year they finally succeeded, and Bush didn't veto it. Patrick Leahy deserves a fair bit of the credit if I remember correctly; I forget who the lead guy in the House was. Bit rich coming from Bush after his abysmal record in Texas, but whatever, it's a good thing and those are rare enough.

Posted by: Katherine | Feb 2, 2005 10:47:11 PM

Wedge-politics. Part of a whole section devoted to issues of concern to African-American voters: anti-gang measures (headed by Laura Bush, no less), pro-masculinity programs, vaguely phrased anti-HIV/AIDS initiatives, with a specific mention of the community in the rhetorical period.

Plus, all the Innocence Project stuff has hurt support for the death penalty. Heck, Bush has seen Republican governors issue stays on capital punishment! Making it less unjust is a way of preventing more people from wondering if it's immoral.

Posted by: Jackmormon | Feb 2, 2005 10:48:10 PM

It appears the Iraqi insurgency has captured a Nancy Pelosi doll.

Hasbro really went overboard with the eyebrowns.

Posted by: SamAm | Feb 2, 2005 10:53:30 PM

Italics be closed!

Posted by: Jackmormon | Feb 2, 2005 11:06:49 PM

From the perspective of public policy and narrative, President Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address brought few surprises. But for sheer chutzpah, President Bush reached new heights.

1. The Social Security Shell Game
As expected, Bush focused on Social Security privatization. Also as expected, he continued the selective use of numbers to create the phantasm of a "crisis." Needless to say, there was no mention of the $2 trillion cost and the serious risks of private accounts. Even more cynical, Bush in the guise of flexibility introduced politically unpopular trial balloons for Social Security, all of which he attributed to Democrats (Bill Clinton on raising the retirement age, John Breaux on ending early collection of benefits, Tim Penny on indexing benefits to inflation, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan on benefit calculations.)

2. Freedom's Just Another Word for...
As I wrote prior to the speech, President Bush tried to appropriate the very terms "liberty" and "freedom" for the GOP, in part by equating his crusade for freedom abroad with the greater "liberty" provided by his domestic program at home. His admonishments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, no doubt a bone tossed to critics of his Second Inaugural, were oddly out of step. And his tough talk towards Syria and Iran ("To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder") certainly will not calm friends or foes.

3. Keeping It Real with African-Americans
President Bush continued his shameless, transparent pandering to African-Americans, especially black churches. This is the same man who refused to meet with the NAACP during and ignored the Congressional Black Caucus his first term. Tonight, he promised to increase funding for African-American men and women afflicted with HIV-AIDS, use faith-based initiative funds to help churches fight gangs, and boost spending on DNA analysis for defense attorneys. As he did during his January 12 town hall meeting on Social Security, Bush wanted to keep it real for his homeboys.

4. Red Meat for Red States
Bush also offered his most vociferous supporters among the Spongebob crucifixion crowd the obligatory props. Despite recent news that the White House would back off the Federal Marriage Amendment, Bush reiterated his support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The President also recycled his "culture of life" rhetoric during one of the more bizarre moments of the night; while he spoke out against embryonic stem cell research, the camera focused on the wife of Christopher Reeve.

5. Passion Play - Iraq as Theater
Without question, the image of an Iraqi voter embracing the mother of a Marine killed in Fallujah will dominate reaction to the President's speech. It was very emotional and quite moving, but also no substitute for an American strategy for success.

In a nutshell, the speech was what one would expect from Mr. Personality. But judging from the instant CNN web poll results, the 60% positive rating by viewers showed that, as usual, it seemed to work for him.

For the details, see:

"State of Denial"

Posted by: Jon | Feb 2, 2005 11:20:25 PM

I was thrilled by the DNA bit, something even Va. Gov. Mark Warner has dragged his feet on arranging in one posthumous case that the Post, always scrupulous on civil liberties, has been nagging him to address. This may shame other Republicans into taking the basic fairness claims of death-penalty and other defendants' rights advocates more seriously, although they could still fall back on their unimpressive stock answer, that the efficiency of the system is more important than confronting stark evidence bearing on innocence and guilt. The Rehnquist Court relied on this line for years in limiting criminal appeals. Maybe the tide is shifting.
Alas, the other thing I felt was that this proposal was meat thrown to progressives to guilt-trip them (and deceive the public) into viewing the overall direction of his domestic policy proposals as "balanced" rather than protesting its ferociously ideological nature. He won't convince any hardcore Democrats with this silly tack, but the media may buy into it quite a bit.

Posted by: inip | Feb 2, 2005 11:20:41 PM


The anti-gang initiative isn't for just black communities. In Virginia where the Congressmen and staffers live, there has been an outbreak of Asian gangs, welding machetes and cutting off hands of victims.

Posted by: EG | Feb 2, 2005 11:35:21 PM

Here's the history of the Innocence Protection Act.

Posted by: Katherine | Feb 3, 2005 12:29:57 AM

Fair enough. And it probably also appeals to some Latino voters as well.

Posted by: Jackmormon | Feb 3, 2005 2:03:42 AM

The remarks about Social Security and the 2018 "deficit" should have raised a few eyebrows.

The President made it sound as though the Government doesn't have any debt obligations to honor with regard to the special issue Treasury bonds provided to the Social Security Administration for the Social Security surpluses spent by the Treasury in Federal Budgets. He made it sound as if the system was already in a hole by 2018. That's just not the case.

Perhaps the Government should stop collecting surplus Social Security earnings if it doesn't intend to honor its debt repayment obligations after it borrows such monies.

Fair is fair.

Posted by: Movie Guy | Feb 3, 2005 3:42:50 AM

"and Bush didn't veto it"

Doesn't mean a thing; He doesn't veto anything. The cleaning lady accidently leaves her grocery list on his desk, when she comes back the next night she finds it's been signed.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Feb 3, 2005 5:44:13 AM

I'm surprised that nobody mentioned that much of the domestic laundry list reads like a Clinton SOTU - not the best sign for conservatives who want a less intrusive government (particularly those who find the notion that the Problems of the World can be solved by... basketball games for gang members).

The speech was dull. It was laundry list. It was vague and repetitive. Bush, never a great speaker, still seems to not know what to do dur5ing loong pauses and doesn't have great control of his facial expressions, which tends to undermine the "through my vagueness, you can't tell how much I want to stick it to Democrats." Well, if you could keep the smirk hidden, perhaps that would be truer.

I don't think the SS portion helped his case - he needs to make it hard for Democrats to stand on the sidelines, but the vague suggestions he brought up - no fees? how does that work? And gradual phase in? - raise more questions that Republicans will have a hard time with while Dems can just sit back and giggle. There's no serious attempt to solve the very structural problem he raises (also, it probably doen't exist - but you break it, your bought it), and no serious attempt to discuss cost. So far SS is just not following the established Rove doctrine. This is a program that the people who know what they're talking about know inside out; and Bush's hackish attempts to succeed through fogginess are backfiring - he's not leaving a mark on Dems or putting them under any real pressure. And as long he's the one forced to explain himself, I'd say Dems are winning.

Posted by: weboy | Feb 3, 2005 7:45:43 AM

Uh, guys? DNA testing isn't soft-on-crime. Nor is a belief in capital punishment inconsistent with it, nor even a high number of executions. In fact, I'd argue that routine DNA testing is more likely to strengthen the case for and likelihood of capital punishment than reduce either. The vast majority of those who favor capital punishment favor killing the guilty only. If proponents can argue that "DNA testing ensures that we're only killing the guilty," it takes a big argument away from the antis, i.e., the argument that "we can set someone free but can't bring them back to life, so life in prison is better in case they're innocent."

Routine DNA testing will mean less killing of the innocent, thank God, but don't fool yourself into thinking that it will mean fewer executions in total, and don't fool yourself into thinking that it will help the anti-death penalty cause.

Posted by: John Thacker | Feb 3, 2005 12:13:54 PM

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