Except for the very human part — introducing the Silver Star war hero Tommy Rieman, or the New York subway hero Wesley Autry — it was hard to say if the president's heart was in the State of the Union speech last night.
Domestic initiatives the White House had telegraphed as bold — on energy and health care and immigration — were modestly described. Iraq — the war that will be this president's legacy — was almost wistfully referenced... "not the fight we entered," said the president, "but the fight we're in."
But beleaguered or determined or both, this is the president for two more years, with a Democratic Congress and a plate ful of trouble.
This hour On Point: top analysts and politicians from both sides of the aisle on the State of the Union, and the state of the presidency.
Quotes from the Show:
"Well, of course the White House feels [Bush's speech] was a tremendous success but these are very difficult times, and not just because of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. Iraq obviously overshadowed everything. And you could hear it in the President's tone when he talks about giving the war a chance. It shows just how tentative and unconfident the administration has become with their political base splitting away from them on the war." Richard Wolffe
"I think what it was last night was the rebound of compassionate conservatism. Look at the issues that were in there domestically: energy, health care, No Child Left Behind, immigration, more money for HIV/Aids and malaria, do something about entitlements and spending reforms, earmarks, add more people to the military. This is a center-right agenda." Bill McKenize
"There is one opportunity to get [immigration] reform done. The one caveat is how this is going to play in the 2008 politics." Ryan Lizza
"America has to change. We have to move toward a new age of energy independence. The President has been talking about this for a number of years but the facts are that since he became President, America is importing one billion more barrels of oil per year. So, his rhetoric doesn't match reality." Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
"I think there are a lot of questions about progress in Iraq and about the President's policy. My fundamental questions are whether or not we should make any commitment to increase troop level before Iraqis have delivered on promises, and I don't think we should. The Iraqis taking steps within their own government on new oil, new reconciliation process, local elections and other issues are crucial to stability. It doesn't matter what we achieve in the next two months on security if they don't accomplish those goals." Senator John Sununu
"Bush should acknowledge failure." Listener from Somerville, MA
Richard Wolffe, Senior White House Correspondent for Newsweek
Bill McKenize, Editorial Columnist for The Dallas Morning News
Ryan Lizza, Senior Editor for The New Republic and Correspondent for GQ magazine
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Democrat representing Ohio's 9th District
Senator John Sununu, Republican Senator from New Hampshire.
This program aired on January 24, 2007.