George W. Bush has delivered the final State of the Union address of his presidency. There were (as we predicted) countless bold proposals, assertions of rightness, and, of course, standing ovations. Please hold your applause.
Our liveblog of the event follows after the jump, so if you didn’t see the speech (or if you did and didn’t get your fill of actual facts), read up!
Bush will likely use this opportunity to attack congressional Democrats, defend his legacy, and outline his plans for the remainder of his lame duck presidency. In today’s New York Times, Jacob Weisberg writes that the speech “tonight will provide an opportunity to reflect on the kind of president Mr. Bush was.” I’ll take the bait before I even see the speech: By any objective measure, George W. Bush’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. It’s impossible to imagine anything George Bush could do or say in the months remaining in his term that would even begin to outweigh the damage he has done to the country. (Maybe “Everyone Gets a Pony“?)That’s what makes all the fuss about this year’s State of the Union address so silly: Bush’s legacy is set in stone. He presided over the second-lowest levels of economic growth of any President since 1960. (His father presided over the lowest.) He started an unnecessary war, undercutting America’s influence in what may be the globe’s most important region; he sabotaged civil liberties; he failed to stop a catastrophic housing crisis; he dithered on the issue of global warming, perhaps, if Al Gore is correct, missing our only opportunity to save the planet. He failed to… oh, whatever. He’s been arguably the worst president this country has almost seen, and the country is one year from freedom. Go find a celebratory adult beverage and settle in. We’re liveblogging tonight’s most ridiculous moments.
9:02: According to Chris Matthews, being a former librarian makes Laura Bush “a literary person.” Also, he thought it was important to point out that she “reads”.
9:04: Bush walks in with the Supreme Court, and Matthews rightly points out that the appointments of Alito and Roberts are among Bush’s greatest successes.
9:11: Bush apparently knows the word “rostrum.”
9:12: Looks like we’re starting out on a note of unity. It’s important to point out that not everyone agrees with the idea that Bush’s legacy is already written. In the Guardian, Paul Harris argues that “pundits” are “in early rush to judge Bush’s legacy.”
9:13: “We believe that the truest guide for our country is the collective will of ordinary citizens.” (All quotes are paraphrased). This is an odd statement from a man who says he doesn’t listen to polls.
9:15: Bush calls for making his tax cuts (for the rich) permanent. “If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it.”
9:17: Bush promises a veto on any bill that doesn’t cut the number and cost of earmarks in half.
9:20: Promoting the use of medical information technology, as Bush encourages, could make a big difference in the quality of health care.
9:23: Is Ted Kennedy sleeping or reading? Maybe his new best buddy could poke him?
9:25: Free trade is great. Whoo-hoo! USA! USA! USA!
9:26: “Purveyors of false populism”=Hugo Chavez. Also Mike Huckabee?
9:27: Dick Cheney claps like he’s Chinese.
9:28: Bush wants a global warming treaty that includes commitments from “every major country.” Guess we can lead on pre-emptive war, but for global warming, we need global consensus.
9:29: Bush has obviously forgotten that the only way to properly respect scientists is to edit their work before it sees the life of day.
9:30: “Respect all human life.” Except Iraqi life, that is.
9:31: “Judges that believe the Constitution means what it says.” Except when it talks about search and seizure, habeas corpus, speedy trials, freedom of speech, or, you know, any rights that I, George Bush, believe are unnecessary.
9:33: It’s important to note that while Bush wants to spend money on a bunch of stuff, he has promised that any bill with a tax increase will be vetoed. So basically, he wants to continue to increase his record deficit spending. Great. Didn’t he say he wants to balance the budget, too?
9:35: “A prosperous future for our citizen.” Just one. Our only citizen. Dick Cheney.
9:37: “We will deliver justice to our enemies.” That makes me think of one thing Bush could do to help redeem his legacy. He could catch our actual enemy. Remember this guy? (Of course, it’s possible that Morgan Spurlock already found him).
9:41: “A proud people”? Well, actually three proud peoples. But we didn’t know that going in! What’s a Kurd anyway?
9:43: The Sunnis “grew tired” of Al Qaeda. Either that or they “decided to” accept our money in exchange for not shooting our soldiers.
9:45: The Democrats, rooting for defeat, refuse to give a standing ovation for the “success of the surge.”
9:46: “In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our nation.” Except for the “too expensive” health care and mental health services and funding for a college education when you get home.
9:47: Haven’t we been “shifting our mission” for five years?
9:49: “Over 20,000 of our troops are coming home.” But troop levels are still above pre-surge levels.
9:50: “Reconciliation is taking place.” If we only believe it enough, it will become true!
9:51: “We will not rest until this enemy is defeated.” Aside from taking more vacation days than any other President in history. Also, everything the President said about a “failed” Iraq is currently true: emboldened terrorists, strengthened Iran, etc…
9:53: Here comes the big-stick-waving at Iran…
9:54: “We will protect our vital interests in the Middle East.” Translation: You best not mess with our oil supply. Or Texas.
9:55: And now for the long-awaited FISA showdown. We have to Keep Our People Safe.
9:56: We also have to Keep Our Telecom Companies Safe.
9:57: “The conditions that breed resentment”? You mean, like the war in Iraq? Also, we “Oppose the Genocide in Sudan.” Not that we’re going to actually do anything about it.
9:59: Again with the increased funding. This time for AIDS. How are we going to pay for it? Does the President have a secret pot of gold somewhere?
10:00: Hey! Something for the troops! Even the Defeatocrats can get behind that.
10:05: And that is it. Olberman: “This was a best-of album of unfinished symphonies.”