This year’s State of the Union speech was a big one for President Bush. He had to face a hostile congress, and try and turn around the lowest approval ratings since President Nixon. In a 50 minute speech the word Iraq came up 34 times, a record, but domestic issues such as cutting US petrol use by 20 percent in 10 years were just as important. The speech was also historic, as for the first time it was addressed to a female leader of the house.
Bush promised to halve the deficit by 2009 and start a guest worker programme for illegal immigrants, but Iraq was at the speech’s heart: “Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq — because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching. If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides”.
The Iraq comments left most Democrats seated and not even all the Republicans clapped. Congress has not forgotten he has ignored their advice on strategy:
“Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq , and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way”. Bush also wants to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance, and he will try to encourage them to buy into policies with tax breaks. That is more popular. However plans to increase the size of the armed forces may go down less well.