SOTU Pregame With GOP Senators
I've just gotten off a conference call attended by Senators Jim DeMint, Chuck Grassley,
Rick Santorum, John Cornyn, and Jim Talent.
On with me were John Hawkins from Right Wing News, Brian Preston from Junkyard Blog and Justin Hart from Right Side Redux.
The Senators commented on what they were expecting from tonight's State of the Union (they seem to have caught pretty much the same preview) and discussed a variety of non-SOTU questions we peppered them with, including the war in Iraq, Justice Alito, Senate legislative priorities, and the midterm elections.
In short, the domestic side of the address will be dominated by energy policy and healthcare, with some secondary focus on enhancing America's competitiveness in the global marketplace. The international side will focus on the war on terror and national security as broad themes, dabbling into subtopics like immigration policy and the merits of NSA surveillance, as well as the Supertopic of striving for a world free of dictatorship and terror by encouraging democracy and freedom around the world (see Bush's second Inaugural Address).
We don't seem to be in store for anything we haven't heard before; rather the President appears to be gearing up to better explain how his agenda (in all its genuine grandeur) is served by certain more immediate agenda items that we're already used to bandying about.
But wait, there's more! Just give me a few minutes to boil down my notes into a coherent write-up. Meantime, check out the extended entry for excerpts from the President's address, courtesy of the RNC.
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Senator DeMint was the first to join us and the first to tell us about the structure identified above (war on terror/national security, combined with energy, healthcare, and competitiveness as the three domestic priorities).
He suggested that a key strategy would be to connect administration policies with real world impact (e.g. making the tax cuts permanent is not a subsidy for the rich, but a means to make America more competitive and create jobs).
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Senator Grassley stressed the curious gap between the current economic reality (i.e. good) in America and the general public's sentiment about the economy (i.e. bad). I ate it up because I've been blogging about this frustrating dichotomy throughout the day. When I asked him how he though the President, legislators, media sources, etc. could best address this mass misconception, he didn't miss a beat. Here's what we need that we ain't got:
- The President being more willing to boast about economic wins
- A pinch of Clintonian storytelling in policy speeches
- A fair press
Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Senator Santorum obliged me by speculating about what specific, short-term legislative issues the President might stump for. Some that he mentioned: the deficit reduction bill, entitlement reduction programs, making the tax cuts permanent, and legal reform. He did say he hoped the President wouldn't simply present a laundry list of requested legislation at the expense of a thematic Presidential vision, as was Clinton's wont.
John Hawkins asked Santorum about his re-election prospects, a matter about which he sounds genuinely confident, owing to his overtaking his opponent Bob Casey in fundraising and his superior operational team "on the ground, on the air, and virtually".
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Senator Cornyn discussed energy policy at some length. Justin Hart asked about windfall profit taxes, in response to which Cornyn noted, "It's not a crime to make a profit in America." Brian Preston asked whether we'd hear about concrete, achievable goals (like drilling in ANWR) tonight (most of the Senators made clear we'd be hearing plenty about the more aisle-crossingly palatable items like renewables, hybrids, and so forth). Cornyn said it had become an "article of faith" on the left that drilling in ANWR will have some kind of unacceptable consequences (a pity, given that argument's abject inaccuracy). I predict we don't hear the word uttered tonight.
Jim Talent (R-MO)
Senator Talent addressed a question from Justin Hart on ethics reform. While he was confident we wouldn't hear the President take up the topic in tonight's forum, he said he expected lobbying rules, particularly those surrounding lobbyist-funded private trips, would be shortly brought up by Congressional leadership and that some would probably pass. To me this sounded more targeted and less sweeping-for-sake-of-being-sweeping than a lot of the rhetoric being slung about on the topic. It was refreshing.
For Immediate Release January 31, 2006
STATE OF THE UNION EXCERPTS
As Prepared for Delivery
America is always at its best when we are shaping events, instead of being shaped by events. Tonight, the President will chart a clear path forward for our Nation:
“In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy – or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting – yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people … the only way to secure the peace … the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership – so the United States of America will continue to lead.”
The President will talk about America’s
leadership role in the world, and the importance of working together to better
protect our country, support our troops, and advance freedom:
The President will talk about America’s leadership role in the world, and the importance of working together to better protect our country, support our troops, and advance freedom:
“Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world… the future security of America depends on it.”
“In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.”
“…Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change.”
“To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands.”
To keep America competitive in a dynamic economy, the President will set out an agenda focused on the priorities that families are most concerned about. He will talk about the importance of having an educated, skilled workforce, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and making health care more affordable, accessible, and portable:
“Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.”
“The American economy is pre-eminent – but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India.”
“We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people – and we are going to keep that edge.”
“America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world… The best way to break this addiction is through technology.”
On Health Care:
“Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care … strengthen the doctor-patient relationship … and help people afford the insurance coverage they need.”
Finally, the President will speak
to the character and compassion of America:
“…our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.”
Handcrafted by Flip on January 31, 2006 |
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