January 23, 2004
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS: BUSH 'KICKS OFF' RE-ELECTION BID
observers assess Bush's SOTU as "confident" but a "nakedly
political" re-election bid.
Supporters credit Bush as a leader who proved he can "stay above
the fray" of party politics.
Critics find Bush "contemptuous" and "unilateral";
stress he is "vulnerable" on the economy.
papers chide Bush for "deliberately" avoiding mention of the
President gave a 'pure election campaign
appearance,' delivered an 'election manifesto'-- Observers of all
ideological persuasions judged Bush's SOTU more of a "full-blooded stump
speech" than a State of the Union address, with many claiming he
"exploited" the annual event to "boost his electoral
standing." The schedule of the
speech, one day after the Iowa caucuses, gave the impression that Bush sought
to "steal the stage" from his Democratic adversaries. Spain's conservative La Razon voiced
the common view that Bush did "not miss a chance to use such a privileged
platform to open his personal campaign." The UAE's pro-government Gulf
News disparaged the timing of the speech, "brought forward to cut off
the Democrat's oxygen of publicity" and exposing the "dark swamp of
Bush's 'strong leadership,' message of 'unity and optimism' wins
approval-- Bush's "spirited" message and "determination"
resonated most positively with conservative papers in Britain, East Europe,
Australia and Japan. In a characteristic
stamp of approval, the Australian declared "Bush has proved a man
for his times." Inspired by his
"strong leadership," Japan's Sankei vowed to support Bush's
"resolve to fight terrorism."
Czech, Polish and Kosovar writers praised Bush for his
"courage" and "strong voice" on moral issues, emphasizing
how different he is from "many European leaders." Even some critics conceded Bush had made
"tangible accomplishments" abroad.
"He can be accused of many things," mused Germany's
center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung, "but not of being hesitant and
Bush's 'we call the shots' message incites
critics-- The harshest detractors disparaged the SOTU as largely "war
talk" and "blatant dishonesty."
They concluded that Bush was "cleverly playing" on Americans'
fear of terrorism while sidestepping domestic issues where he "knows he is
vulnerable." Echoing the critics,
London's conservative Times held: "His belligerence, the myopia and
the long list of things he did say show that he is not secure on every
flank." While Brazil's Valor
Economico derided Bush's "illusory data" of a U.S. economic
recovery, an Australian analyst averred that "no amount of "rhetoric
can conceal the thinness of his answers" to economic problems "mostly
of his own making." Leftist and
Muslim writers warned that Bush's "unambiguous and aggressive
posture" was an "indirect threat" to other countries, which a
Lebanese paper dubbed the "Bush Doctrine of making additional
Arabs, Muslims fault Bush for 'talking about
everything' but Arab-Israeli conflict-- Commentary in the Muslim world noted that
Bush's SOTU was "distinguished by his totally ignoring" the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Bush was
giving Sharon "the green light" to continue his hostile policies,
they said. It was
"deliberate," added Lebanon's nationalist As-Safir, intended
to "lift any pressure off Israel" and part of a "clear plan to
attract Jewish votes."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis is based on 98 editorials from 43
countries, January 21-23. Editorial
excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.
"Mr. Bush, Tighten Your Purse Strings"
The conservative Daily Telegraph
maintained (1/23): "President Bush
was able to tell Congress on Wednesday that the war on terror is going well and
that the state of the Union is strong.
Odd then, that the currency of that Union--the dollar--should greet his
speech by falling sharply on foreign exchanges.
The markets do not fully share his confidence.... Mr. Bush's aim is to get re-elected in
November. And faster economic growth
should reduce the deficit, up to a point.
But the danger is that Mr. Bush and his lackluster Treasury secretary,
John Snow, seem to be making no effort whatsoever to balance the books. At this rate, Mr. Bush could face the same
awkward questions as his father, who famously said, 'Read my lips, no new
taxes' in 1988, only to break that promise once re-elected."
"Bush Opens Campaign By Staying On Solid Ground"
The conservative Times editorialized (1/22): "The White House said that the address
on Tuesday would not be 'political,' but that could not have been less
true. It was nakedly political, and delivered
from a position of confidence. Yet his
many omissions simply highlighted his points of real vulnerability--and one of
the greatest is the wariness even of Republicans of letting him spend any
more.... Bush’s gibe at 'submitting to
the objections of a few,' and his declaration that 'America will never seek a
permission slip to defend the security of our country,' could have been
scripted to scupper [talks with the UN on the Iraq transition].... Intransigent but nervous abroad; cautious and
circumscribed at home. This was a
confident opening to Bush’s re-election campaign. But the belligerence, the myopia and the long
list of things he did not say show that he is not secure on every flank.”
The independent Financial Times took this view (1/22): "George W. Bush’s third State of the
Union address turned out to be a campaign speech to launch his re-election
bid. The president started out reaching
for the poise and rhetoric of a statesman above the political fray but quickly
descended into an aggressively partisan tone.... It was a speech, in other words, that frames
an election debate that promises to be highly divisive.... The address offered little new and less of
substance on domestic policies where the president could be vulnerable."
An editorial in the center-left tabloid Daily
Mirror (1/22): "The UK joined America in a war against Iraq because,
we were told, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Nine months after the war ended, none has
been found. But the hunt for WMD became
a search for something different – weapons of mass destruction programmes. Now
President Bush in his State of the Union address has changed that again. This time into 'weapons of mass
destruction-related programme activities.'
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy yesterday asked Tony Blair to
explain what that means. Unsurprisingly,
we are still waiting for an answer.
"Bush Rises Above Political Fray In State Of The Union
The conservative Daily Telegraph judged (1/21): "President Bush delivered his State of
the Union address this morning, portraying himself as a leader above the fray
of party politics as his Democrat opponenents headed for a renewed bout of
campaigning. Mr. Bush emphasised the
successes of his national security strategy as a re-election theme and
delivered a message of unity and optimism."
"Bush Offers Stark Choice To Voters"
Washington correspondent Justin Webb commented
in the publicly-funded BBC (1/21): "George Bush kicked off his election
campaign with his third State of the Union address by offering the American
people a stark choice. The spoken
message was that a vote for George Bush is a vote for continued progress in
safety and prosperity, but supporting an opponent would be a vote for outdated
policies that would make America less safe.
The unspoken message was that if voters ditch him as a wartime leader
they run the risk of disaster befalling the nation. The speech was his major step to frame the
debate and tell voters why they should stay the course.... The timing came very close to Democrat's
first test in the Iowa caucuses, and this speech was effectively a bid for
re-election. In November, Americans will
vote on two issues: Whether Iraq was a disaster and whether the economy is on
the mend. If Iraq is not a disaster and
the economy is on the mend, President Bush will be re-elected, and this speech
won't make much difference one way or another.
But if there is some sort of disaster in Iraq or the economy clearly
hasn't gotten better and more jobs aren't created, no amount of rhetoric will
save this president. This is after all
a 50-50 nation, split down the middle.
It won't take much to tip the election one way or the other."
Senior foreign correspondent Christian Malar
commented on France 3 Television (1/22): “This was a real election speech.…
George Bush is determined to keep America in its role as the world’s policeman
‘does not need a permission slip’ to defend itself. At a time when the American
administration is trying to involve the UN in stabilizing Iraq, these words
seem contemptuous for the UN and countries such as France, Russia and China
that came across in the speech as part of the few countries the U.S. will not submit
Patrick Sabatier editorialized in left-of-center
Liberation (1/22): "When a
candidate also happens to be in the president's seat the election becomes a
sort of referendum and the State of the Union speech an opportunity to defend
his results. He knows that he is
vulnerable. Although he can bank on
American patriotism and the memory of Sept. 11 in order to present himself as
the best defense against an ever-present threat to the U.S....domestically, he
is accused of promoting two Americas; one that caters to the rich...and one
that suffers from unemployment.... The
role of the U.S. in the world has not been this prominent in American politics
since the Vietnam War and voters, including the anti-Bush faction, will judge
the candidates by the yardstick of their credibility in this area."
"Bush: Return to Realpolitik"
Francoise Crouigneau editorialized in
right-of-center, economic Les Echos (1/21): "For his State of the Union address,
George W. Bush left nothing to chance, including the date. This was the president's chance to steal the
show from his adversaries one day after the Iowa caucus...and one week before
the New Hampshire primaries.... The
speech was marked by a return to realpolitik and a real focus on domestic
issues.... This return to realpolitik is
also patent in President Bush's message with regard to foreign policy. Prudently, past rhetoric such as the 'axis of
evil' has been set aside to make way for the pragmatic quest for a safer
America and world. This pragmatism
is...exemplified by the redemption of Libya...now qualified by Bush and his
advisers as a model of cooperation. The
hand that has been held out to the UN should also enable the U.S. to renew
dialogue with Washington's most skeptical critics. But will American voters be moved by this
discourse? Only time will tell and John
Kerry's victory in Iowa is a reminder that the game is not over yet."
"The President's Limitations"
Dominique Bromberger told listeners on state-run
France Inter radio (1/21): "Nothing
was spared to dramatize the State of the Union address.... Warnings of air
attacks on Congress during the president's speech enabled George W. Bush to play
on his public's fears by stating that another Sept. 11 is not
unimaginable...and that the 'we have not come all this way...to leave the work
unfinished.' In other words the
president was appealing to his fellow citizens not to change the commander
during the battle.... But as martial as
the speech was it also underscored the limitations of the Bush administration's
field of action.... The president will
certainly not be spared if things take a turn for the worse in Iraq or if
economic growth, boosted by tax cuts, peters out. The administration's lack of military and
financial reserves proves that if the Democrats play their hand correctly
anything is possible."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in center-right
Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/22):
"A year ago, the existence of WMD was the main reason for the Iraq
war, but today, they have shrunk to 'program activities.' His main ally Tony Blair will wonder whether
he would really have moved to the Gulf because of 'activities' and would have
risked his reputation and credibility.
For U.S. voters, these seem to be semantic nuances which will fade in
the view of regime change in Baghdad....
This does not mean that the Iraq issue will not play a role in this
election year. If the political
transition into post-despotism times does not succeed, if occupation and
restructuring end in a disaster, a totally different balance sheet will be
submitted than Bush has now presented.
And if economic growth does not have an effect on the labor market, even
a rosy picture of the future will not help.
But this also means: if no
reports of disaster come from Iraq and if the economy has left the worse
behind, the Democrats and their challenger will have difficulty piercing Bush's
"Address On the Election Campaign State Of
Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl argued
in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/22): "President Bush's State of the Union
address was a pure election campaign appearance, and if it was an indication of
the political controversies in the coming months, then we should be excited to
see a campaign that will be waged with all means.... We listened to a president who was convinced
of the correctness of all his measures, who regrets nothing. The Iraq war?
Tough, but correct. The ignorance
of the United Nations? No issue.... The tax cuts?
Congress should immediately adopt them.
And to the delight of his conservative rank and file, Bush even provoked
the opposition Democrats with a list of those issues which are threatening to
tear apart U.S. society.... The only
issue he did not address was abortion...but otherwise, Bush looked like a man
who, with the grin of a wolf, is juggling with several hand grenades at the
same time.... Bush can be accused of
many things but not of being hesitant and without courage. He seeks the confrontation, he occupies
issues, and he shows the characteristic that Americans appreciate the
most: leadership qualities.... The coming months will show, whether he will go
down well with the voters."
"The Divided Nation"
Christoph Birnbaum asserted in the Hamburg Financial
Times Deutschland (Internet Version-WWW, 1/21): "The U.S. presidential
race has begun. Only one day after the
'Iowa Caucus,' which kicked off the Democrats' primaries for the presidential
candidature, George W. Bush made it clear to all Americans with his State of
the Union address that for him, the hot stage of the election race is now
beginning. And Bush thereby plays it
doubly safe: the 'war against terror' is his highest domestic policy priority. Here, he said, the United States must
fulfill a 'mission' of the free world.
If necessary, also alone. With
pathos, to which we are unaccustomed, Bush follows the historical precedent of
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This goes
over well in the United States.
However, in the places where his speech turned to domestic issues -- to
the topics of health insurance and the budget deficit -- a deeper rift cuts
through the nation. Seldom has a
president of the United States divided the nation so deeply as Bush does. Those who keep the high [level of]
participation in the Iowa primary in mind suspect that the presidential race
will stir up the United States even more."
"Bush To America: 'Let's Go
On Like This"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli wrote in
pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (1/22): "Full steam ahead against the
terrorists, against all those who would like to limit America's power, and
against domestic opponents as the electoral campaign has already begun. The tone, more than the content, is what
characterized President Bush's State of the Union speech.... The almost unanimous opinion was that it was
an effective speech. And it was
unanimously assessed as the most political and 'electoral' of similar speeches
in decades, even if one compares to George W. Bush's past ones."
"The Return Of Candidate Bush Splits America In Half"
Vittorio Zucconi judged in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (1/22): "The last
State of the Union speech before the November elections was more an electoral
speech than a presidential speech....
What Bush was more interested in...was not to explain the unexplainable
puzzle of weapons, or to justify the faulty or, worse, manipulated intelligence
on which a preemptive war should be based.
What he cared most was to repeat an unquestionable truth, i.e., that
'the world is, in any case, a better place now that Saddam is no longer there'
and other states, such as Libya, have realized that 'America maintains its
word.' The road is right, the work is
still 'unfinished' and 'this is not the time, after paying such a high cost, to
stop or retreat.'"
"The State Of The Union? It’s OK For Bush"
Cesare De Carlo noted in conservative,
top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno
(1/21): “Every year around this time the
U.S. President, no matter who he is, addresses Congress.... But why yesterday, only 24 hours after the
Democratic caucus in Iowa?... It is
obvious that a presidential address, especially if it’s anticipated, steals the
stage from the adversaries.... The
substance [of the address] is naturally more important. Bush counters the rhetoric of the Democratic
propaganda with a State of the Union that is not bad at all.... Currently, the economy is growing at a rate of
over 8 percent. American taxpayers are
paying fewer taxes.... The terrorist
threat has decreased.... Afghanistan is
no longer Bin Laden’s sanctuary and in Iraq Saddam Hussein, the most potent
WMD…has been neutralized.... This is a
comforting situation. The most
undervalued of presidents is enjoying a good popularity rating. And he can relax in view of the November
elections. Unless...he suffers a major
political, economic or social blunder.
And this is what the democrats are hoping for in order to regain the
"It's More Like State Of George Bush"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(1/22): "This monologue would more
appropriately have been called the State of George Bush.... It was obvious that the president was way
more comfortable speaking of what was going on outside the United States, his
focus on Iraq, Libya, democracy in the world, and the global war on
terrorism. The part of the speech that
immediately concerned the situation in the United States was clearly 'sagging,'
lacking in drive and arguments.... Two
years after he proclaimed the concept of a global axis of evil, Bush,
determined to go down in history as the terminator of international terrorism,
comes across as a leader who is consistent in what he does and averse to
conformism and moral relativism. Herein
lie his strengths and a promise of support from much of the United States. But he failed to win over a sizable and
growing part of the electorate which is increasingly inclined to believe that
the president is pathologically insensitive to their everyday needs. That makes him look like the president of the
world rather than the president of the United States."
"Bush Keeps Mum On Setbacks"
Yevgeniy Verlin noted in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(1/22): "Concentrating on
successes, Bush kept silent on his foreign policy setbacks, including the
stalled roadmap in the Middle East and a new chill in relations with
Moscow. He did not say a word about an
'alliance' with Moscow."
"It Sounded Like Soviet Slogans"
Andrey Vetvinskiy said in reformist Gazeta (1/22): "The President decided not only to
report on his accomplishments to Congress but to call upon millions of
Americans to vote for him.... Switching
over to the economy, George Bush singled out cutting taxes and increasing the
output of natural gas and oil as growth factors. He urged Americans to constantly improve
their professional skills, as in the age of rapid technological progress, every
factory and office worker needs to accumulate more knowledge. That sounded like the Soviet Union in the 1970s,
with its slogans 'the economy must be economical' and 'the better you work the
better you live.'"
"U.S. President's Election Manifesto"
Aleksandr Timofeyev said in reformist Vremya
Novostey (1/21): "Last year
Bush unfoundedly spoke of Saddam Hussein's attempts to get hold of uranium in
Africa. Now it is clear that weapons of
mass destruction, the stated reason for the war, will hardly be found in
Iraq. That makes Bush shift emphasis to
the military operation as a way to advance democracy in that country.... Bush has had tangible accomplishments
abroad. In his presidency Iraq has been
occupied by U.S. troops, and Iran has had to make concessions on nuclear
inspections. Intractable North Korea is
all that has left of the axis of evil, as seen by the Americans. Libya, which has chosen to forsake its WMD
program, is going to be used as graphic proof of Bush's tough diplomacy being a
success.... Listed among Bush's trump
cards is the fact that his unpopular policy to cut taxes has helped lead the
U.S. economy out of a recession. It is
also true that since Bush became president, 2.3 million Americans have lost
their jobs, impelling him to think of the lower classes' interests."
AUSTRIA: "The Zealous Side Of George W.
Deputy chief editor Viktor Hermann wrote in
independent daily Salzburger Nachrichten (1/22): “George W. Bush pursued several goals with
his State of the Union Address: first of
all, it was a preventive reaction to all the things that a Democratic
presidential candidate could potentially reproach him with during the next nine
months. Whether he was talking about
unemployment or the budget deficit, the education system or care for the
elderly and sick--in all those issues, Bush showed that he is determined not to
repeat the mistakes of his father, who ignored the Democrats’ attacks of his
inner political and economic strategies after the first Gulf War, secure in the
knowledge that he was popular as the liberator of Kuwait.... However, the President’s speech also had undisguised
ideological traits. Bush wants to extend
the Patriot Act, which gives a disconcerting amount of rights to the
intelligence services. He wants to
double the funds for promoting pre-marital chastity, give financial support to
religious charity organizations, and made a point of referring to heterosexual
marriage as ‘sacred.’”
"Moderation And Fear"
Managing chief Eric Frey commented in liberal Der
Standard (1/22): “Considering his splintered opposition, the economic
upturn in the U.S., and the natural advantages of the incumbent in any
campaign, all the signs seem to be pointing towards Bush’s reelection.… Even
the outcome of the war in Iraq has been looking a bit more positive since the
capture of Saddam Hussein.… And Bush has another way of keeping the political
middle ground under control: the Americans’ fear of terrorism.… The image of a
nation in great danger helps Bush to present the growing international
isolation of the U.S. as an achievement, and gives him an excuse for denouncing
his critics as unpatriotic traitors. It is likely that Bush is going to try to
whitewash his rather indigestible political extremism over the next few months
by cleverly playing on the Americans’ fears of terrorism. In the right
circumstances, this strategy might work for him – but it remains risky, and
might be exposed as a bluff by a skillful opponent at any time.”
"Domestic-Policy Issues Dominated"
Laszlo Trankovits, DPA observed in state
supported, nationwide Vienna ORF Television (Internet Version 1/21): "President
Bush is trying to secure his reelection with domestic-policy issues.... This
time the address, traditionally the most important speech of any president,
reflected George W. Bush's very personal nightmare. After all, the Republican
from Texas fears nothing more than to suffer his father's fate: 12 years ago,
George Bush had to move out of the White House after only one term as president
despite victory in the first Iraq War.
Ten months ahead of the presidential election, Bush's State of the Union
address was, first and foremost, an election-campaign speech that was dominated
by domestic-policy issues.... Even
though one year ago, he pointed to the danger of the Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction with dubious evidence, and has failed to deliver any clear evidence
to this day, Bush saw no reason to justify his decisions let alone to express
regret.... Bush's speech showed how he would try to avoid his father's fate: as
a statesman who shows determination in foreign- and security policy -- and who,
at the same time, puts economic policy and the problems of the middle classes
and the socially weak into the center of his election campaign."
"A Not Very Convincing Address"
Nathalie Mattheiem observed in left-of-center Le
Soir (1/22): " With no innovation, no flight of oratory, the State of
the Union Address will probably not divert Americans' attention from the New
Hampshire primaries among Democrats. It is probably in the President's
advantage. Indeed, according to express polls, the percentage of favorable
impressions about the State of the Union Address was exceptionally low."
"The Stakes Are Immense"
Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn asserted in
conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (1/22): "Will Bush win a second term so that he
can finish the work of his father? Or
will his stay in the White House end after four years? We will know the answer
on Tuesday, November 2 - and not one single day earlier. One thing is certain: the ante is immense,
perhaps greater than ever before. Who
becomes President is not only important for the United States, but also for the
whole world. The reason is simple:
America is at the zenith of its power.
It is the most powerful empire in history. Though he denied it in his
State of the Union, the rest of the world considers America the absolute
superpower. That is why it is so
important who becomes President.... Bush
is not loved in other countries. The war
in Iraq caused deep division between the old allies. That division remains visible in the
controversy over the reconstruction of Iraq: enough reason for many to hope
that Bush will be defeated. This may be
wishful thinking. Of course, Bush has no
guarantee that he will win, but he holds many winning cards. In the eyes of many Americans, he is 'the
right man on the right place.' They want
a conservative nation - and that makes him the perfect President. The capture of Saddam Hussein was also a
major success for him.... The only thing
that Bush has to fear is the weak economy.
In December only 1,000 jobs were created - instead of 100,000 as
expected. Iraq may cause trouble if
American soldiers continue to die there.
On the other hand, his advantage is that the Democratic candidates will
destroy each other in the coming weeks - while he does not have to fear any
competition.... Bush has not won yet,
but those who claim that he is finished may soon be an illusion poorer."
"A Campaign Speech"
Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert asserted
in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (1/22): "President Bush's State of the
Union...was more a campaign speech than a State of the Union address. That is not surprising: every four years the outside world is
irritated by the fact that the most powerful country in the world loses its
interest for the rest of the world when it focuses on the election of the most
powerful man in the world. However, Bush
cannot afford to ignore the rest of the world:
the first and main reason is Iraq....
If chaos and violence continue to prevail and if there is no convincing
progress in the transfer of power process in Iraq an increasing number of
Americans will not believe Bush's claim that the world has become a safer place
after the war in Iraq."
"The Force's Right"
Top-circulation Trud commented (1/23): "Bush's address has brought back
unpleasant memories with one of its postulates which has been discarded in
humanity's recent history. The American
nation is a 'nation on mission', said the President of the superpower, in
connection with what he believes was the right decision to occupy Iraq. This is the kind of nation the Germans have
declared themselves to be back in the 1930s.
What followed were endless troubles for the entire humankind, including
the U.S. itself. Back then, Germany also
had its allies that later bitterly regretted being this country's allies."
"War From The White House Balcony"
Jurica Korbler observed in Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik
(1/22): “Even though it seemed absurd
until a few months ago, Bush is winning, and it is most likely that he will win
on Iraq. History has shown that a
country which is involved in a war in one way or another, and Bush clearly
stated that America is involved in a war, always stands by its president. The old themes whether Saddam had bought
uranium in Africa, which dominated last year’s State of the Union speech, have
now been forgotten. With the optimistic
conclusion that the world is changing for the better because of the American
leadership, Bush is moving into the election campaign with a record high amount
of dollars collected, and toward the ever more certain victory.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Bush
A Little Different"
Pavel Tomasek wrote in the leading business Hospodarske noviny
(1/22): "The generality, to the
point of superficiality and empty talk, of the State of the Union Address could
tempt one to dismiss the speech.... It
should not, however, block from view one important thing. George Bush has been able to make use of his
three years in office to change his country, and through its power even the
world, substantially in the spirit of the principles he adheres to.... Bush’s speech was fascinating in how he
remained true to himself. If he has now
a good chance to be reelected it is mainly because of this steadfastness."
"State Of The Union Address:
Pavel Masa judged in the center-right Lidove noviny
(1/22): "President Bush...tried to
gain votes in the upcoming presidential elections [by promising medication to
pensioners, scholarships to students...and to the same effect he used the
alleged military successes, which 'will
change the world for the better.' He
tied the two issues together by an emotional finale.... Although hollow in itself, it may
nevertheless be effective, since pre-election campaigning is only a competition
among illusionists anyway, and Bush managed to ward off the tricks of his
Right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet editorialized
(1/22): "President George W. Bush
has again left no question about how much the United States at present is
taking the opinion of the rest of the world into account. In his SOTU the president firmly established
that he would not seek anybody's permission to defend the American people.
"Bush's Second Presidential Agenda"
Influential business Vilaggazdasag judged (1/22): " The President was obviously clear with
the situation that it is an election year. It is doubtful whether the opinion
of the American voters can be guaranteed ten months ahead. Doesn't someone overestimate
the voters' memory who expects them to vote on base of their impressions gained
in January? George Bush considers (and hints) the American economy to be the
background for the U.S.'s role of world leader."
FINLAND: Bush's Ad With No Surprises
Leading, centrist Helsingin Sanomat
editorialized (1/22): "In an
election year, the State of the Union address is inevitably partly a campaign
speech, especially if the incumbent seeks re-election. Party politics probably played a bigger role
than usual in President George W. Bush's
speech. The Democratic candidates had
controlled the media scene because of
Iowa. Bush got his opportunity to seize
the moment and he utilized that
opportunity to the fullest. Last year,
it became obvious that Iraq did not have WMD nor any significant programs to
develop such weapons. Bush was expected
to admit, at least indirectly, that the Administration's pre-war assessments
were somehow flawed. Of course, no such
admission was offered but Bush did have a new formulation for the dangers of
Iraq. Iraq had 'dozens of mass
destruction-related program activities'. How specific can one get?"
"Bush's Best Possible World"
held(1/22): "President Bush
launched his re-election campaign. The
overall tone of the speech was optimistic and also conservative. In an election year, old supporters must not
be be angered by radical new
proposals. The incumbent President
always has an upper hand in the campaign.
But recent opinion surveys indicate that Bush's lead is so small that he
cannot make big mistakes."
KOSOVO: "Bush Challenging Xenophobic,
Quasi-Racist Policies Of Lilliputian Europe"
Pro-LDK, mass circulation Bota Sot
commentator Elida Bucpapaj opined (1/22):
“Everyday on, George W. Bush wins a battle to the spite of Old Lady Europe’s
critics who are transforming European leadership mentality into a mentality of
Lilliputians, little people, egocentrics who do not think but about their own
comfort. In the Presidential speech to the nation, delivered on January 20, the
American President, after he talked about important achievements of his
administration.... George W. Bush
revisited the request for changing immigration laws. It is the very treatment
that George W. Bush makes to millions of illegal immigrants...that tells the
difference between George W. Bush’s humanism and the critics from Old Lady
Europe who treats immigrants like chattel of barter not humans. If Lilliputian
critics blamed George W. Bush that his war in Iraq was about oil, what are they
going to accuse George W. Bush of when he protects the most unprotected people
of the world, the immigrants. While Europe tightens its laws against immigrants
(to the level of xenophobia and quasi-racism), George W. Bush reaches out to
the most helpless people of the globe - the immigrants who entered America to
save the lives of their children or to make future. This act of George W. Bush
is not a demagogy but a concrete step that makes Americans enthusiastic about
voting for George W. Bush, for it is known that America is a multiethnic place,
populated by the peoples from all over the world.”
“Democrats Accuse Bush Of Hijacking State Address”
center-right Irish Independent printed an article by Tim Reid published
originally in the London Times (1/22):
"The speech on Tuesday night, one of the most partisan and
aggressive in recent times, was less a lofty address to the nation than a
full-blooded stump speech in which Mr Bush took on his Democrat critics and
accused them of not taking terrorism seriously.... Aware that he enjoys a huge advantage over
Democrats as leader of the War on Terror, he immediately raised the spectre of
the September 11.... He threw down the
gauntlet, daring Americans to remove a wartime leader from office.…To the
charge that his Administration's foreign policy was unilateralist, he
countered: ‘America will never need a permission slip to defend the security of
the country.’ On Iraq, he contended that ‘some in this chamber and in this
country’ had opposed the liberation of Iraq.
Without mentioning the failure by weapons inspectors and American forces
on the ground to find Saddam Hussein's alleged illicit weapons of mass
destruction, which formed the core of last year's speech, Mr Bush insisted:
‘For all who love freedom and peace, the world without Saddam's regime is a
safer and better place.’ On domestic
issues, particularly the failure of his Administration to create many new jobs,
Mr Bush was equally pugnacious. Ignoring the United States's $500billion
deficit, he not only insisted that his $1.7 trillion tax-cut package was
working, he also demanded that Congress make it permanent.”
"U.S. Presidential Campaign Ignites"
The center left Irish Times declared
(1/21): “It is much too early to say how
such close competition for the Democratic nomination will affect President
Bush, who last night laid out his domestic and foreign policy agenda in the
annual State of the Union address....
Mr. Bush is fully engaged in the campaign, as shown by his decision to
move last night's address forward one week to spike the Democrats'
publicity. His message that the U.S. is
still at war with terrorist adversaries resonates with his supporters. So does his optimistic message about the
recovering U.S. economy and specific policy measures to tackle social exclusion
and poverty.... The election agenda
comes back to issues of healthcare, jobs and the environment which can mobilize
voters, especially if the economy does not deliver this year as Mr. Bush
promises it will do.”
"A Political Mission Command"
In newspaper of record Aftenposten foreign editor Nils
Morten Udgaard commented (1/22): "The U.S. turns its back on its old
alliance NATO, which is completely left out of the Presidents great SOTU
Address. President Bush is building his own coalition in the war against
terror, and asks God to support the battle for American values in the Middle
East... Instead he speaks about 'our international partners', naming 17 -
amongst them eight from NATO - and speaks about their crucial importance... What
Bush does is to underline the deep gap that still runs through NATO... In such
an important speech every issue is closely considered, and aimed at telling us
who America currently see as a 'partner'... in the Muslim World ... Bush also
claim support from higher powers; 'In everything that shall come, we shall know
that His aim is just and true'. These are the words of a crusader... What is
lacking and radically sets Bush apart from the majority of the U.S. Presidents
after WWII, is that he does not want any cooperation with European countries...
The rest of the world is puzzled, as much amongst the eight NATO countries that
are told that they are the partners of the U.S. as among the ten that didn't
make it to the list...All the time it is becoming more evident that Bush is
considering NATO as a political and military toolbox for the U.S. This is
something quite new. "
"Bush Vague About Future Plans"
Erik Sagflaat asserted in the social democratic Dagsavisen
(1/22): "President George W. Bush didn't mention the up-coming election in
his SOTU Address. But his struggle for re-election is really the only thing the
speech was about. Bush boasted about his successes, hid his failures and was
vague about his plans for the future.... And as the recurring theme in
everything he said; the U.S. is a nation at war, and you do not change C-in-C
while there is a full-scale war going on. 'We have not come this far, through
tragedy, hardship and war, only to leave the job unfinished' said Bush....
However, it is not war...that decides the election result.... The economy and
the number of jobs are far more important.... If this is not showing in the
coming months, the Democratic challenger will have an unexpected chance."
POLAND: "The Example
Ewa Czaczkowska opined in centrist daily of record Rzeczpospolita
(1/22): "In his most recent State
of the Union address, President Bush clearly demonstrated how much he is
different from many European leaders.
And it is not about politics, it is about moral issues. He has shown that he is not afraid to voice
strong opinions on these issues.... Many
European politicians could do with such courage."
"Saddam Is Not Enough"
Bartlomiej Niedzinski opined in centrist Zycie (1/22):
"Contrary to what some of the Democratic hopefuls for the White House are
saying, it is not true that the foreign policy of this Administration is 'the
most inefficient in history.' Regardless of the reasons that guided President
Bush, let us remember that Saddam Hussein really was a criminal, a man who
unleashed two wars, used chemical weapons, and persecuted the Kurds and
Shiites. The fact that he was toppled and then captured must be regarded as
success.... Bush underscored that, during the 28 months that have passed since
September 11, there has not been a single terrorist attack on the U.S. That
cannot be denied, and that is also a success of the U.S. Administration....
Will it be enough to be re-elected? George Bush has still the most trump cards
in his hand, and still remains a favorite for the presidential elections. He
has to remember, however, that the war against terrorism in itself is not
everything. Otherwise, the struggle for the White House may turn out to be
surprisingly fierce, especially if the Democrats are able to come up with a convincing
candidate out of the many presidential hopefuls they have."
Campaign In Motion"
Portuguese wire service LUSA chief Luís Delgado wrote in his daily
'Straight Lines' column in respected center-left Diário de Notícias
(1/22): "In his State of the Union
address, Bush set his electoral campaign in motion...delineating the two or
three topics which will be his electoral platform: the economy...the benefits
of this good [economic] progress for education and health, and the war against
terrorism.... 'Today we are better off than we were before,' was basically
Bush's key message.... On this point,
Bush tried to be convincing, demonstrating that Americans are more secure with
him, who has confronted terrorism on all fronts, internal and external, than
with a new president, without experience or the capacity to make
About The Great President Bush"
Miloslav Surgosm noted in centrist SME (1/22): “The State of Union from the White House
Chief was precautionary and defensive. Elections are approaching.... He paid attention to advocating the war in
Iraq, but he did not omit his weakness, the domestic economy.... The mission of the whole speech was
clear: you would make a big mistake if
you changed your President now....
However he did not say anything new. The speech was only about himself
and how great his policies are.”
SPAIN: "A Recalcitrant
Left-of-center El País wrote (1/22): "Bush's long
speech to his fellow citizens about the State of the Union was as insistent and
opportunist as could be expected from the occupant of the White House.... For an emphatic and defiant Bush, the best of
the past year's achievements has been the war in Iraq.... Bush's illusory 'new Iraq' is just that, an
illusion. As is the affirmation that his global crusade against fundamentalist
terror, in which he wants to enlist all Americans, is making the world
safer.... This ignores the demands the
Iraq situation has placed on the superpower, while more urgent issues such as
Afghanistan and the Middle East remain... and the damage Iraq has done to U.S.
relations with its allies, Europe first of all.
The unilateralism so praised by Bush, and so evident in other areas such
as trade and the environment, has considerably damaged the image of his country
in the world."
"Bush, Without Concessions"
Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (1/22): "Apparently believing that the best
defense is a good offense, George Bush gave a speech without concessions and
clearly tailored to his re-election campaign.... It is highly improbable that a majority of
U.S. citizens will turn their backs on the president while he transmits this
climate of permanent tension, of not letting down the guard against the
"Bush Opens His Election Campaign"
Conservative La Razon commented (1/22): "Bush did not miss a chance to use such
a privileged platform to open his personal campaign and set his real power
against a set of Democrats who, at least in Iowa, have not exactly given off an
image of strength."
TURKEY: "Union Is Not
Strong Any More"
Nezih Uzel argued in nationalist Ortadogu (1/23): “The SOTU address is a declaration of
divisiveness within the U.S. President
Bush, due to his wrong policies, created a serious division between Democrats
and Republicans. No matter how much he
tried in his speech to reaffirm the strength of America’s union, the fact of
the matter tells just the opposite.... Due
to the ongoing economic policies, the poor became poorer and rich became
richer. Listening to the arguments
raised by Democrat Party members, we can simply draw a conclusion that the
differences will get even deeper, and economically speaking, the working class
of America is destined to suffer more....
The Bush administration created its own union, which is strong enough
because of rich business interests and involvement. Let’s hear what Wesley Clark had to say: Clark has renamed President Bush’s tax
policy, foreign policy as well as the domestic policy as the axis of evil.”
"Start Of The Election Campaign And Threat To The Middle
Ali Aslan commented in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman
(1/22): “The text of the speech
highlighted the president’s role as Commander in Chief. The SOTU also indicated that Bush will give
higher priority to national security issues over the economy during the
election campaign.... It is also
interesting that Bush did not utter the phrase ‘axis of evil’ this time, yet he
reaffirmed his commitment to pursue reforms in the Middle East and to fight
against regimes that shelter terrorists....
In sum, the State of the Union address included warnings about the
Middle East but also marked the official start of the 2004.”
"Bush: Might Makes Right"
Zeynep Atikkan argued in the mass appeal-sensational Aksam
(1/22): “The whole nature of the SOTU address is designed with the ‘might makes
right’ mentality. No matter how Bush
dressed up this idea with his rhetoric about freedom and democracy, he could
not hide his real intention. The fact of
the matter is that world public opinion hates the U.S., and the SOTU address
did nothing to help the U.S. in this regard."
Alexander Maistrovoy wrote in popular, pluralist Russian-language Novosty
Nedely (1/22): "The Middle East
was a minor part of George Bush’s [State of the Union] address. The U.S. President, without going into
details, sensibly drew the lines of his Middle East policy. This was the speech of a victor, who defeated
the enemy and has confirmed his intentions to put into practice the ideas of
Pax Americana.... He defined the real objectives
of his policy, which are changing Middle East that has become a supportive
environment for religious fanatic movements and aggressive
quasi-ideologies. This was the U.S.'
purpose in coming to the Middle East, subordinating Iraq and overthrowing the
Taliban’s regime.... Bush did not
mention openly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he considers to be
rather a marginal factor in Middle Eastern politics.... Bush mentioned the 'friends' of the U.S. This notice has an ambiguous meaning: on the
one hand obvious concern for their [allies] security and on the other hand a
concealed warning -- the U.S. requests its allies to take into consideration
U.S. interests and coordinate their policy with it.... The U.S. has a small amount of friends in the
Middle East, Israel among them...and it requests that Israel follow its policy."
WEST BANK: “When Sharon’s
Presence Is Associated With Hostility”
Talal Okal opined in independent Al-Ayyam (1/22): “The international conditions do not indicate
an impending change in the mechanisms or means of dealing with hot Arab
issues. Until now, Europe has not been
able to defy American policies or the role the U.S. administration has set for
it. Furthermore, Europe has not dared to take an independent role to affect the
progress of events in the region. As for
America, in his State of the Union speech President Bush has turned his back on
his commitment toward the roadmap and peace efforts.... In such circumstances, it is hard to figure
out what would prevent Sharon from continuing his escalating, hostile policies
against Palestinians. Everything
happening now encourages him to proceed with his security and military choice.”
LEBANON: "The State Of
The Union Address: Issue 2004"
Joseph Samaha held in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(1/22): “Bush’s State Of The Union
Address in 2002 was distinguished by the statement ‘axis of evil.’ Bush’s State of the Union Address in 2003 was
distinguished by talk about the great dangers in Iraq represented by Weapons of
Mass Destruction and a nuclear program.
Bush’s State of the Union Address in 2004 was distinguished by his
totally ignoring the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: nothing, no vision, no map,
nothing. Ignoring this conflict was
deliberate...intended to lift any pressure off Israel’s shoulders, keeping the
conflict within the framework of the war on terrorism, and developing a clear
plan to attract Jewish votes. It is
difficult to view the State of the Union Address without looking at the
upcoming American presidential elections.
George Bush tried to benefit from his father’s experience and gave a big
room to domestic U.S. issues....
Americans who criticized the Address said that it was weak regarding the
Iraqi WMD. In fact it was more than
weak.... Bush almost announced that he
gave up on finding Iraqi WMD.... The
issue here is not only an issue of lies.
The whole American military belief is based on the right to launch
preventive wars is put to question.”
"The State Of The Union"
Mounir Al-Khatib maintained in independent Al-Balad
(1/22): “Because it is a presidential
election year, Bush chose another approach for his State of the Union
message. Usually, State of the Union
speeches start with browsing the U.S. domestic situation and what the President
intends to do next year...but President Bush, who is ambitious and wants to be
re-elected, dealt with the Congress as if it is a war tribunal and talked about
his military achievements in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on
terrorism.... He considered that it is
an achievement that the U.S. has not been subjected to a terrorist operation
since September 11. Obviously he forgot
that the U.S. had not witnessed any terrorist attack since Pearl
Harbor..... In an attempt to keep the
Americans prisoners of their fear of terrorism, Bush said that this success (in
combating terrorism) depends on the Americans’ preparedness to continue to
confront terrorism...Bush did not hide his imperialistic tendencies, saying
that the U.S. will not ask for any country’s permission to protect its
security, even its allies. The head of
the Democratic Party Nancy Pelosi responded by saying that America has to show
its greatness and not its power, it has to be a light and not a mere
rocket...Bush’s address presented a dark image for what to expect in the near
future. Perhaps its only positive aspect
is that it ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“The State Of The Union Is Impressive Yet Dangerous”
The English-language moderate Daily Star editorialized
(1/22): “Bush’s State Of The Union
message...was a comprehensive microcosm of all the issues that make the world
love and hate America. The impressive
aspects of the performance were many, most notably the powerful national
commitment to work, and even to fight, for principles that the American people
hold dear. The U.S. determination to
promote freedom, democracy, and economic dynamism throughout the world is
inspiring. People everywhere have no
trouble identifying with such noble goals.
Bush articulated them with passion and sincerity. Less impressive is the slightly haughty tone
that the president used to define America’s self-proclaimed global mission to
do all the above.... If the substance of American foreign-policy goals is
admirable and widely shared, the manner of American foreign-policy
implementation is not. Its rather
jingoistic and arrogant manner-America does what it must do anywhere in the
world- was evident in the president’s speech, and is highly objectionable to
most of the rest of the world. In
relation to Middle Eastern issues, the president’s speech also reflected both
wisdom and whimsy. One could not miss
the very sharp contrast between last year’s speech and its allegation about
Iraq’s multiple alleged threats against the U.S. and the world, and this year’s
more humble, almost tacit admission that most of those charges against Iraq remain
unproven. People respect the U.S. more
today because of its willingness to use force to back up its threats, but they
also respect it less because of two related issues that are so evident in the
Middle East these days; Washington is erratic in following through on state
policies, and it uses its military force in a manner that often does not
adequately take into consideration local realities.... Bush’s speech was an accurate reflection of
the state of U.S. relations with the world: marvelous in some respects, and
dangerously naïve in others.”
"The State Of The Union And The World"
Rajeh Khoury commented in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar
(1/21): “In the State of the Union
Address...President Bush...continued his ‘Bush Doctrine’ strategy of making additional
enemies.... When Bush says that his bold
decisions have made America more secure, he will find many people who will
argue long about the truth of such a statement.... Is it true that America has become more
secure?.... Perhaps we should look for
the answer in the World Social Forum which was held in Bombay and which ended
by sharply criticizing the ‘Bush Doctrine’ which believes in the war as a way
to organize the world...Perhaps we should also look for the answer inside the
burning Iraq.... Far and away, it is not
clear in which areas in the world the U.S. succeeded in disseminating
democracy, while it is very clear in what the U.S. spread weapons and
troops.... Finally when Bush repeats his
pledge to the Americans to continue to pursue and destroy terrorists, he is
only promising the Americans an endless war, just because it is producing more
than eliminating terrorists.... With the
‘Bush Doctrine,’ the State of the Union will become similar to the State of the
World, a place for fear, worry, and terrorism.”
Bush SOTU Speech: Kickoff For
Aziza Nait Sibaha observed in French-language Le Matin
(1/22): "The American
president...gave an accounting of his domestic and international activities,
but some criticized him for having left out the serious issues that have marked
his mandate. Of course, George W. Bush
did not express any regrets in speaking about the war in Iraq, and he forgot to
address reconstruction and its cost, as well as the instability that prevails
in post-war Iraq. As for the
Palestinians, they expressed their disquiet about the total absence of any
reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the presidential
"Bush And Reverse Logic"
Mohamed Lakhdadi said in semi-official Arabic-language Assahara
(1/22): "This time in his annual
State of the Union address, U.S. President George Bush did not resort to
diplomatic language to express America’s insistence on taming the world using a
big cudgel under cover of the slogan of fighting terrorism. His threats were in the manner of Texans, who
have a long history of exterminating the red Indians. He has resorted to the concept of reverse
logic used in mathematics to demonstrate that something that’s wrong is
right.... The catastrophes of U.S.
policy in the world are breeding terrorism.
Yet there is no mention of these crises, and further, there is absolute
omission of the Palestinian issue in a speech that lasted more than an
hour.... Another four years of Bush at
the White House will bring more darkness to the world with its fundamentalist
Christian policies, (an ideology) that resembles any other ideology of
"Arab-Israeli Conflict Totally Absent From
Semi-private regional radio station Medi-1
reported (1/21): "While President
George Bush has focused on the U.S. campaign to fight international terrorism,
he has not mentioned at all the Arab-Israeli conflict and his vision of two
states [solution for Israelis and Palestinians] was totally absent from his
speech. However, Bush has called on the
U.S. Congress to increase assistance for democracy programs for the Middle East
from 40 to 80 million Dollars."
Semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan opined
(1/22): "Mr. Bush talked for one
hour about everything but the Arab-Israeli conflict. This act is not only a
negative act; it has more implications. It is simply giving Sharon and his
administration the green light to do what they want to do. The Bush
administration just took off its last mask and stood strongly behind Likud’s
rightist agenda. Sharon, now with a full American support, will continue
building the separation wall (fence), build more settlements, plan more
incursions, and to kill as many Palestinian leaders as he can. This message
from Bush was also directed toward the Arab States, telling them that they
shouldn’t expect that the United States will even pretend to play the mediator
role. It is a clear message that needs an Arab clear stance. This message
leaves us with no chance to maneuver.”
"President Plays On Americans' Fears"
Semi-independent English-language Gulf Times stated
(1/22): "U.S. President George W.
Bush pulled the mantle of a wartime leader tight around him as he delivered his
last State of the Union address before this November's presidential elections.
Playing on the nerves of a nation still traumatized by the events of September
11, 2001, Bush told his people that his policies - including the invasion of
Iraq - had made the whole world safer. The implication was that electing a
different president would put American lives in danger. Yet his comments on the
war on Iraq were shrouded in obfuscation.... On a positive note, the president
did proclaim his desire to spread democracy throughout the Middle East. No
doubt the Iraqi Shia leaders in Hilla thought about that when they were told a
few hours later that choosing their next leaders by holding elections would
wreck Iraq's transition to democracy. The U.S.-led authorities organized the
meeting, addressed by an American expert.”
"Al-Jazirah TV: Bush Speech Fails to
Mention Israel, Palestinians"
Independent, Qatari government financed
Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television had a report stating (1/21): "In his State of the Union speech, U.S.
President George Bush has ignored any mention of the peace process in the
Middle East. He failed to mention the
U.S. road map to realize peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. President Bush did not mention Israel, the
Palestinians, or Palestine by name in his speech which lasted approximately one
hour. He talked about the city of
Jerusalem by indicating that it was among the cities that have come under, what
he called, terrorist acts."
SYRIA: "Law Of The
The English-language government-owned Syria Times noted
(1/21): "The U.S. electorate is
evenly split heading into the 2004 presidential election year, a new poll has
found. Of course, foreign policy
constitutes one face of the U.S. Administration's fiasco. The most significant
other face is the domestic policy pursued by President Bush in different
fields; economy, social security, education and defense etc.... Many Americans view Bush's policy on the
so-called anti-terror war as a big lie aimed to export his domestic
crises.... The majority of American
pollsters said they disapprove of his handling of the economy. As for jobs,
unemployment, health care and education, the pollsters feel uneasy. Many expressed skepticism about Bush`s
recently announced immigration initiative. Concerning Bush`s plan 'to build a
permanent space station on the moon', the majority said it was not worth the
risk and costs. Back to earth, the U.S.
Administration`s policy in the Mideast continues to be strongly condemned not
only in the region, but also in the world on a large scale.... In the occupied territories, the U.S.-backed
Israeli occupation forces continue to launch a war of extermination on the
defenceless people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with the aim of liquidating
the just cause of Palestine.... The
whole matter can be summarized in a single sentence. Bush and Sharon believe in
the law of jungle. 'Might is right' is their doctrine."
UAE: "Bush Feeds On
The English-language pro-government Gulf News declared
(1/22): "It was billed as a State
of the Union address, but what we saw was George W. Bush launch his campaign to
stay in the White House. Even the timing of the speech, brought forward to cut
off the Democrats' oxygen of publicity following the Iowa caucus, defined the
event as being rooted not in the sunlit uplands of statesmanship but in the
dark swamp of party politics. No New
Deal or Great Society emerged from the clipped sentences of this speech, nor
were they meant to. Last year, Bush used the occasion, in words that have come
back to haunt him, to accuse Iraq of concealing weapons of mass destruction.
Without noticing the contradiction, Bush stated this year 'For diplomacy to be
effective, words must be credible and no one can now doubt the word of
America.' This was a partisan affair,
the last Union speech before the election. And it showed. As the Republicans
yelled and whooped their delight the Democrats were reluctant to bestow
applause on the president's words. The election may not be until November but
this speech, in everything including its defiant and strident delivery, showed
that we are well and truly in an election campaign."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Cycle Drives Bush Vision In 2004"
The national conservative Australian stated (1/22): "Yesterday's address...was...a political
document, designed to kick off the President's campaign for re-election in
November. The focus was on national security, and the speech signaled the
extent to which Mr Bush will use the war on terror in his campaign.... While nothing will convince hardline critics
in the U.S., Europe and Australia that Mr Bush's aggressive foreign policy
decisions [taking action in Iraq and Afghanistan] are justified, he knows that
most voters support him in those actions. And so they should. The world changed
on September 11, 2001.... In this
respect Mr Bush has proved a man for his times, and it is those whom he yesterday
branded 'condescending,' because they do not believe that some countries are
ready for democracy, who are out of touch....
Australia received, not one, but two mentions in the State of the Union,
both in the context of our role in liberating, then rebuilding, Iraq.
Unfortunately, however, the auguries were not good on the single most pressing
issue in Australia-US relations, the current negotiations for a free trade
"Bush's Opening Re-election Pitch"
An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read
(1/22): "This week, in his latest
State of the Union address, he is still much concerned with the war on
terrorism, and perhaps not enough concerned with the domestic economy. Mr Bush
plays two tunes on national security. He says the US is a safer place since the
overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He also says that since there have been no further
attacks on American soil since the September 11 attacks, it is 'tempting to
believe that the danger is behind us'. Such a hope, he warns, is 'understandable,
comforting and false'. Many Americans
will accept Mr Bush's warnings of continuing danger and judge his credentials
on defense and national security as superior to his political opponents'.... On domestic affairs, though, Mr Bush is
vulnerable. No amount of rhetoric can conceal the thinness of his answers to
the economic problems, mostly of his own making, that increasingly beset the
U.S. ... On the evidence of this
speech...Mr Bush still has ground to make up to persuade Americans that he has
the answers to the nation's economic problems."
"Bush Mobilizes For Election"
Roy Eccleston observed in the national conservative Australian
(1/22): "George W. Bush has
launched a spirited election-year defense of his foreign and economic policies,
arguing in his annual State of the Union address that the world is safer thanks
to the US's resolved in going to war in Iraq.... Mr Bush specifically failed to mention last
week's costly Mars space initiative, which went down badly with many
conservatives who believe that spending in Washington is already out of
control. But he wooed his conservative
Christian supporters, forcefully repeated his opposition to gay marriage, and
left open the possibility he would support a constitutional amendment stating
that marriage is the union of man and woman."
JAPAN: "We Support President Bush's Resolve To
Conservative Sankei editorialized (1/22): "President Bush's State of the Union
Address demonstrated his strong leadership in the fight against terrorism. By expressing his firm commitment to secure
domestic and international security, he tried to assure Americans that he is
determined to defend the security of their country."
"To Make The World A Safer Place"
Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri said (1/22): "It is significant that the leader of
the world's sole superpower expressed his firm resolve that his country will
accomplish its mission to fight terrorism.
Although the international community was split over the war on Iraq,
close coordination between world nations is indispensable in eradicating
terrorism. We expect the US to exercise
further diplomatic leadership in fostering international cooperation."
"U.S. Needs To Improve Its Damaged Image"
Moderate Mainichi opined (1/22): "As seen in the progress on Libya and
Iran, the U.S.' fight against terrorism has produced concrete results. However,
unilateral action by the U.S. resulted in damaging its image as a leader of the
free world, and complicating its relations with the UN and EU. To restore its
status, the U.S. needs to promote cooperation and coordination with its friends
and allies in dealing with world affairs."
"President Less Confrontational On
Top circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri's
Washington correspondent Hishinuma observed (1/21): "In his address, President Bush
reiterated accomplishments in the war on terror and justification for the Iraq
war, thus expressing his strong determination to continue performing his duties
as a 'war president.' At the same time,
this year's speech was less confrontational on the diplomatic front than his
two previous addresses. In fact, the
President, referring to Iraq reconstruction, stressed the importance of the
UN's role in transferring power to the Iraqi people. Behind this moderate line lie concerns on his
part that the U.S., if it does not obtain the international community's
support, would be forced to continuously foot the bill for rebuilding Iraq and
that such a prospect, by triggering American discontent, would hurt his
"Do Not Take Unilateral Action"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (1/22): "The U.S. needs support from the U.N.
and the international community in order to succeed in Iraq restoration efforts
and in the fight against terrorism.
President Bush should not repeat unilateral action but instead should
seek and promote cooperation with the international community. The President declared that the US has no
desire to dominate and no ambitions of empire.
He should prove his statement by his future action."
Seeks To Legalize TNTs Working In U.S."
Federico Pascual said in the independent,
second-largest-circulation Philippine Star (1/22): "As expected, President Bush delivered
an upbeat State of the Union address Tuesday night that defended his handling
of domestic concerns and the war that the U.S. is fighting in Iraq.... Among his proposed legislation that drew
interest among Filipino and other alien residents in America is his temporary
guest worker program under which an estimated eight million illegal immigrants
could temporary status. Under the
proposal, illegal TNTs ('tago ng tago') [translation: illegal residents]...can
apply for a temporary worker's visa only if they have a job. This will minimize their being exploited by
THAILAND: "The Grand
Illusion Of President Bush"
The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation
read (1/23): “President George W. Bush’s
State of the Union speech was a big disappointment because he continues to
refuse to accept reality as it is. He
chose, instead, to relentlessly stress the threat of terror. Certainly, he said, the U.S. is not safe from
terrorism and, for that matter, neither is the world. So for the upcoming election, the American
public has to choose between the fight against terrorism or, to quote Bush’s
phrase, ‘dangerous illusion’. That is
the way he would like to word things.
Bush has no choice: he started
the war and now has to make sure that he finishes the job. Otherwise, Americans history will not be kind
to him. The American public indeed has a
choice to make come November. They can
choose between the threat of terrorism or its absence. If the U.S. as the world’s most powerful
nation had followed the rules sanctioned by international laws and the United
Nations, a question such as ‘Why do they hate us?’ would never have occurred in
the first place.... In the end, the
American voters will have to choose their own exit-strategy because that is the
only way to get rid of Bush--to refuse him a second term.”
INDIA: "State Of The
The centrist Calcutta-based Telegraph opined (1/23): "The job of the president of the United
States of America is never done. There
is nothing surprising, therefore, in George W. Bush's declaration that he wants
to finish his work.... Behind Bush's
defiance, evident in the State of the Union speech, is a hidden and deeper
agenda. By not making public his
intentions, Bush is somewhat betraying the trust the American people have
reposed in him.... Events have forced
Bush to look outwards rather than at domestic issues. For one thing, there was the perceived direct
threat to the U.S. after 9/11 and for another, there was the pride in being the
world's only superpower. Bush, more than
Bill Clinton, his predecessor, has taken the job of being the global sheriff
very seriously. Bush has part-created
and part-ridden the tide of jingoism.
But even he cannot claim that he has the support of, and his policies
have the approval of, all Americans....
No country loves to go to war.
The people of the U.S. have got a president who clearly does."
"Illusion And Truth Of Peace-Welfare"
Nationalist Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar
Patrika editorialized (1/23):
"Bush has naturally spoken these in order to buy support toward his
own aggressive 'peace' avenue and has drawn attention of his countrymen toward
the necessity of his vigorous foreign policy.... Whether Bush's policy is acceptable or not
may warrant debates but one thing that does not have any scope for controversy
at all, is his real foresight about the sheer transience of apparent
peace.... Whoever knows or not, at least
India has realized the true nature of this apparent peace-welfare repeatedly at
the cost of huge sacrifice. So, Indian
leaders too should learn something from President Bush's diplomacy when he says
that he wants to bring the situation within his grip as long as the reins are
in his hands.... It is not only caution
but considerable presence of mind needs to be shown on behalf of India to drive
Musharraf in a positive direction. Does
the Vajpayee government possess that? Do
President Bush and his administration also have the will and capacity to get
these two South Asian neighbors move along the desired path of peace? Seemingly, they are walking on the right
track. However, the taste of the cake
lies in its eating."
Hindi-language national Dainik Hindustan declared
(1/23): "President Bush's tough
talk on Iraq in his State of the Union address demonstrates the mind of a man
drunk with power. Also, the wording of
the speech has been selected clearly with an eye on the next U.S. presidential
elections.... The president of such a
great nation should not display such belligerence; he is expected to be the
The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer
maintained (1/23): "The State of
the Union address shows that Bush has not learnt any lesson from past mistakes
and has every intention to turn the Earth into a hell. He has earmarked several hundred million dollars
to destabilize Middle East and hurled threats on Iran, Libya and North
Korea. It is all the more shocking that
he intends to further marginalize the UN and even ignore his so-called allies. We hope that the U.S. public opinion would
analyze the factors that have created hatred for American policies. Already Democrats have warned that the
President is isolating the country through his policy of pre-emptive wars. The world would remain apprehensive of the
U.S. until and unless Washington introduces the element of justice in its
policies and respects sovereignty of other States."
An editorial in the centrist national English
News asserted (1/23): "President George W. Bush’s declaration that
U.S. will never seek permission to wage war can be easily translated to mean
that any state can become a victim of American aggression without the due
process of being warned first.... This
is the twenty-first century dictum of a sole great power that has embarked upon
the modern version of the wars of conquest of the great subjugators whose
hordes thundered across feeble frontiers.
This could even mean that criticism of America could be interpreted as a
threat to that country and invite an immediate pre-emptive strike.... President Bush’s warning to the world,
however, has been made possible by a supine world sitting on its hands,
unwilling to act even as it witnessed a super power increasingly speaking in
the idiom of modern day conquerors.
Ironically, the traditional critics remained silent while some even
extended full or partial support. There
was much to be gained from joining the winning side. It is not clear when this
license the American chief executive has acquired will expire. With still much to be done to dismantle the
Al-Qaeda set up, states across the globe will remain on tenterhooks as to when
they could be targeted next."
"World Doesn't Need Threats, But Peace"
Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang editorialized
(1/23): "The indirect threat hurled
by President Bush in his State of the Union address towards other countries is
a new danger signal for the world peace and demands that the international
community must take a serious notice of it.
President Bush’s unambiguous and aggressive posture against the 'non
democratic' governments in the Middle East leaves no doubt that the American
administration is now eyeing the resources of other Muslim Arab countries after
Afghanistan and Iraq. President Bush’s
whole speech is reflective of his expansionist mentality."
"Bush Portrays Iraq Events As 'Reverse of What They Are'"
Mr. Qannadbash, an analyst at the news research
and commentary unit of the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1
asserted (Internet version, 1/21):
"To assess the American president's remarks about the Middle East
and Iraq, as well as to weigh Bush's claim about the roots of terrorism being
destroyed or about movement towards democracy in Iraq, it suffices for us to
point to the events that have occurred in Iraq over the past few days and are
still continuing: The people of Iraq have called, with one voice, for the
establishment of democracy and direct elections, whereas officials in
Washington are explicitly emphasizing the need for the establishment of an
appointed government in Iraq. Of course, in his remarks, Mr. Bush tried to give
the impression to the people of America that he has destroyed the roots of
terrorism in the Middle East or advanced in the direction of overthrowing
terrorist movements, whereas we can see that what the West calls terrorist
movements are not only continuing but are also being perpetrated in the worst
possible way by the Zionist regime on a daily basis."
SRI LANKA: "An
Independent English-language MTV (Maharajah Television) News reported
(1/22): "George W. Bush had made an
impressive defense of his administration record in his third State of the Union
address to the Congress. He insisted that his Foreign policy including the
invasion of Iraq has made the Americans and the World safer. The speech is being seen as Bush is setting
up his case for re-election in November."
SOUTH AFRICA: "Bush
The liberal Star opined (1/22): "The extraordinary thing is not that
George W Bush believes what George W Bush says, but that such a large number of
Americans do. His State of the Union
address was largely war talk and blatant dishonesty. We can understand that he would wish to
defend the invasion of Iraq, but suddenly the absolute certainty about weapons
of mass destruction has transmogrified into 'dozens of weapons of mass
destruction-related programme activities.' That is gobbledegook intended to
assure all and sundry that Bush had good cause to launch his war. The only
problem is that his chief weapons hunter has said that he cannot find any
actual weapons. Bush also saw fit to
assure his nation's citizens that those people they were helping to kill,
actually were ecstatically grateful. Try
these two passages: 'The men and women of Afghanistan are building a nation
that is free, and proud, and fighting terror - and America is honoured to be
their friend.' And on Iraq: 'Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces
of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries
enforced the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein -
and the people of Iraq are free.' Try telling that to the people of Kabul and
CANADA: "Bush Act
Starts To Wear Thin"
Editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui held in the liberal
Toronto Star (1/22): "It is
unrealistic to expect total honesty from politicians. Their partisanship
guarantees self-praise and self-serving arguments. Still, citizens expect them
to operate within reasonable rhetorical limits. In the case of the president of
the United States, whose constituency is not confined to his nation, the world
expects his words to bear some resemblance to reality. Non-Americans tuning in
to George W. Bush's State of the Union address would have been disappointed.
Even allowing for his domestic needs in an election year, it was riddled with
disingenuous, at times dishonest, formulations as well as logical
inconsistencies. That was the conclusion I went to bed with Tuesday night.
However, I woke up yesterday heaving a sigh of relief that, at least, he was
not off to another war.... The Democratic response to his speech, especially by
Senator John Kerry and Gen. Wesley Clark, was tough. Similar sentiments last
year would have got them labelled as unpatriotic. They should be saluting
Howard Dean. By being bold enough to speak the truth, he has liberated them. He
may not go any further in the primaries, but he has already served his party
and his nation well. The world should take comfort that the wheels of American
democracy are grinding."
"America's Testy Union"
The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (Internet version,
1/22): "Bush...invited 60 million
viewers to believe that 'because of American leadership and resolve the world
is changing for the better.' That...is a
stretch. In Afghanistan...Osama bin
Laden and al-Qaida are still active, plotting terror.... In Iraq, American troops are mired in a $120
billion military mess that has drained resources from the war on terror. North Korea is equipping itself with nuclear
weapons. The Mideast lurches toward
catastrophe. Meanwhile, relations with
allies like Canada continue to be tested by Bush's defiant
unilateralism.... And at home Americans
are struggling.... For many in the U.S.
and overseas, the world is indeed changing, as Bush says, but not for the
better.... Mercifully, Bush offered no
hint of more 'axis of evil' adventurism, or threats of invasion. Overall, though, his address left some
asking: Is that all there is? The odds still favour Bush getting
re-elected. Americans do feel
threatened. They give Bush credit on security. And the economy is getting stronger. But the union is not nearly so 'confident and
strong' as Bush made it out to be. The
president himself sounds vulnerable, as he prepares to face the
"An Unfortunate Omission"
The conservative Ottawa Citizen editorialized (Internet
version, 1/22): "'This man is not
for turning.' With apologies to Margaret
Thatcher, the phrase summarizes President George W. Bush's latest State of the
Union address. When you compare what he
said Tuesday to the speeches of 2002 and 2003, it is obvious terrorism remains
his central concern. Last year, he
sought to prepare his nation (and the world) for war; his 2002 address, which
came four months after the 9/11 attacks, served notice that the war on terror
would be extended beyond al-Qaida to an 'axis of evil.' This year, too, he
reminded Americans that 'we have not come all this way -- through tragedy, and
trial, and war -- only to falter and leave our work unfinished.'"
ARGENTINA: "Criticism Of Bush's Address"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarín,
highlighted (1/22): "With his
re-election in the spotlight, U.S. President George W. Bush attempted to use
his State of the Union address to present himself as a head of State who is
beyond the political and election debate. But his strategy failed. While he
never mentioned Democrats by their names, the text of his address was drafted
in such a way that it became a strong answer to the criticism from Democratic
candidates of his foreign policy and his domestic agenda.... According to a CNN opinion survey, only 45
per cent of the people interviewed approved his address, while last year's
message had a 54 per cent approval rate."
"War, People And Elections"
Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of
leading Clarin judged (1/21):
"The State of the Union Address was not the typical evaluation of
the status of the country, but a campaign message loaded with re-election
"Bush Gave His State-Of-The-Election
Claudio Uriarte, international analyst of
left-of-center Pagina 12 wrote (1/21) "National security, national
security and more national security was all George W. Bush had to sell in the
first half of his State of the Union
Address, which was strongly influenced by his re-election campaign. In contrast
with this, the second part of his address was devoted to describing what he
made appear as the economy of some other country. In all, it was an effort to
showcase a radiant but combative tone, far from the gloomy and threatening tone
of the message he gave last year when he prepared U.S. citizens for an imminent
invasion of Iraq. The Republican audience strongly applauded, the Democratic
audience almost did not applaud while Senator Edward Kennedy was all the time
moving his head in sign of disapproval."
Concerned About U.S. Fiscal Balance"
Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized
(1/23): "The World Economic Forum
is devoting its major concern this year to the increasing problem of the U.S.
public debt.... Forty members of
Congress belonging to the Republican Party's most conservative wing complained
this week about the administration's inaction on the nation's budgetary
imbalance.... However, Bush apparently
remains indifferent to these warnings.
In the State of the Union address, the president ignored the negative
analyses of his tax-cut program made by both allies and adversaries. He defended tax reduction with the simplistic
reasoning that 'people use their money much better than the government,' and
with illusory data about economic recovery.
He announced more extravagant plans for public spending that most likely
will not be realized.... His speech was
unquestionably one of the most frustrating and electoral in the SOTU's history. The public reacted to it coldly.... If this keeps up, Bush's problems with
re-election may increase.... The prowess
of pre-candidates John Kerry, Wesley Clark and John Edwards has increased the
opposition's chances of victory."
"Bush Opens Reelection Campaign In Ohio”
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo Washington correspondent
Paulo Sotero reported (1/22): “One day after having stated before the Congress
that under his leadership the U.S. is ‘strong,’ fighting terrorism and expanding
the economy, President George W. Bush started yesterday a two-day trip
calculated to be the opening of his reelection campaign.... Although even his
Democrat adversaries recognize that Bush is beginning the reelection campaign
in a comfortable position, the choice of Ohio points in the opposite direction.
Ohio was one the states more affected by the recession/stagnation of the first
two years of the Republican administration.... As an illustration of the
political division expected to mark this year’s presidential elections, Bush’s
visit to Toledo led hundreds of opposing voters to demonstrate near the place
he was addressing.”
MEXICO: "The U.S.
Proposes, But It Also Gives The Instructions"
Alán Arias wrote in the nationalist Milenio (1/22):
"President Bush rudely disdained, during the State of the Union address,
the relationship between Mexico and the U.S.
He mentioned quickly his political stance regarding immigration,
providing legal mechanisms to allow the hiring of foreign workers for jobs Americans
would not be willing to accept. He also
mentioned the war against terror and the need for homeland security, warning
that better immigration rules would allow the Border Patrol to be more
efficient in managing threats... At this
point, who would believe that the Bush administration had any real intent to
put the bilateral relationship among the priorities of the American foreign
policy, when the most important issue for America is to guarantee world
security, especially the defense of the so-called 'perimeter of North America'
which begins in Central America?... The lack of both a Mexican strategy and a
plan for the relationship with the U.S. has worsened dramatically the treatment
from and interaction with the Bush administration."
"The Secret Iraqi Weapon"
Ángel Guerra judged in the left-of-center La
Jornada (1/22): "The Bush speech had the clear intention of getting
votes in the next elections. However this is not important, since it is a
normal behavior of an American President who wants to run for a second term.
The most important part of his message is the Nazi ideology, which underlies
the push to global hegemony and repression - inside and outside the U.S.-
imposed by the power of weapons, which is typical of excessive state controls.... As proof, we have the call to renew the
Patriot Act, plus the statement saying that 'we will not ask to anybody for
permission to preserve the security of the U.S."
CHILE: "War On Terrorism, Domestic Issues Underpin Bush's
Leading-circulation, independent Santiago La
Tercera wrote (1/21): The
president--who is seeking reelection--warned that his country is still 'on the
offensive against terrorism' and congratulated himself for Libya's decision to
eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.
On the domestic front, Bush was optimistic about the economy's upturn
and also addressed the health system....Upon launching his reelection campaign
and seeking to strengthen his position in the face of upcoming November
elections, the president focused his message on Iraq and domestic issues."
"Bush Spoke With Reelection In Mind"
Government-owned but editorially independent
Santiago La Nacion noted (1/21):"The president responded to the
opposition's criticism by pointing out the accomplishments in the war on
terrorism and the domestic economy, two issues that could favor him in this
year's presidential elections.... U.S.
President George W. Bush's advisors were cunning when they suggested the
president deliberately schedule his State of the Union address between the Iowa
Democratic Convention...and the one in New Hampshire.... Thus, Bush's speech
yesterday addressed Democratic criticisms of his administration without yet
having to confront an opponent. The
White House saw the address as a chance for the president...to show 'great
vision facing the elections,' asserted Ed Sarpolus, a University of Michigan
analyst, and to 'disarm the Democratic opinions against him.' Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said last week
that 'Americans are paying the price of Mr. Bush's distorted priorities.'...
Pelosi probably referred to two issues that jeopardize a new term for Bush in
office: the budget deficit and unemployment."
"U.S. First Round Of Elections"
The lead editorial in top national El Tiempo
argued (1/22): “In two very different scenarios...the election of the next U.S.
President has just begun.... In Iowa on
Monday the democratic candidates...and on Tuesday, it was the President’s turn,
who took advantage of the...annual report to Congress on the 'State of the
Nation’ to trace the outlines of his strategy.... The presidential
speech...referred briefly to topics on which opinion is unfavorable to the
government, like reform of Social Security and the...conflict between Israel
and Palestine; other topics in which Bush is even more unpopular, like the
environment and his recent initiative to conquer Mars, were not even
"State Of The Union"
Lead editorial in economic business La
Republica noted (1/22): “Although this time the annual speech on the State
of the Union was mainly about the war against terrorism, there was also a large
segment on economic matters, to be
expected both as a good (thematic) balance and because Bush is in an
"A Speech In Minor Key"
The lead editorial in Medellin-based El
Colombiano stated (1/22): “The words of the President of the most powerful
nation in the world...were an attempt to justify his questioned performance and
were loaded of promises.... His speech was moving and not very deep in crucial
topics; it received systematic applauses from the Republicans and silence from
the Democrats... The State of the Union speech was incomplete and it did not
even seemed to have pleased the people of the United States.”
PANAMA: "Bush’s Message"
Conservative El Panama America held
(1/22): “Nothing new was said in the
speech.… We don’t believe that promising temporary visas for three years to six
million illegal Hispanics in the U.S. will be enough to ‘make them come out
from the shadows,’ as stated by the President … The majority of the speech was
dedicated to exalt the principle and values of the Armed Forces.… With such
scenario, we have very little doubt he [Bush] will win his re-election by a
wide margin, although not in an overwhelming way like his staff expects. The economy is recuperating, but unemployment
is still high.… Anyway, re-election was without being said, the subject of the
speech. An in that arena, ironically,
George W. Bush will win the presidency again thanks to the subject that caused
his father to lose re-election against Clinton: war over economy.”