Bush's final SOTU

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a link to the transcriptPresident Bushseven previous speeches

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\ 2001 - The Case for Tax Cuts - The president outlined his first budget and the need for tax cuts because of recession, laid groundwork for attempts to reform social security, education and other issues, and did mention the threat of “terrorists…with bombs.”\ \ \ 2002 - Responding to 9/11 - Mr. Bush said the “nation is at war” and outlined actions in Afghanistan as well as further possible domestic targets of terror, called for an economic stimulus packaged, named the “axis of evil,” and described needs for homeland security and for “a new culture of responsibility.”\ \ \ 2003 - The Case for Invading Iraq - The president made his first mention of “energy independence” in a SOTU, announced Africa HIV/AIDS initiative, but spent most of the speech making the case that allowing Saddam Hussein to stay in power could “bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”\ \ \ 2004 - Defending the Invasion - Mr. Bush justified the invasion as the removal of a brutal tyrant and a bolstering of diplomacy (“words must be credible”), pointed to Libya’s disarmarment, and sought to persuade that the U.S. was still under threat of attack and still “at war,” also called for a temporary worker program, social security personal retirement accounts, and bashed professional athletes for using steroids.\ \ \ 2005 - The Freedom Agenda - Feeling his oats after reelection, Mr. Bush crowed about the growing economy, repeated calls for reform of social security and immigration, and said he supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, then launched into freedom agenda speech: called for $350 million for Palestinian government, called on Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reform, and threatened Syria and Iran, while praising Iraq for holding elections and saying that U.S. forces in Iraq were transitioning into a “supporting role.”\ \ \ 2006 - Anti-Isolationism - After another year in Iraq, Mr. Bush said the U.S. was in “a long war” and railed against isolationism in foreign policy and protectionism in trade, saying “we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders,” he also called on a newly elected Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism, admitted the existence of the warrantless domestic spying program and defended its legality and usefulness, said America is “addicted to oil” and called for more alternative sources of fuel and energy, and made brief mention of aid to Katrina victims.\ \ \ 2007 - Stay with Me - Mr. Bush recognized the Democratic takeover of Congress, criticized the use of earmarks in Congress, talked healthcare reform, teed up his immigration reform plan, called for a reduction of gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years and for increased domestic oil production, asked for $1.2 billion for malaria aid in Africa, and addressed the slips backward in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq, saying that “every one of us wishes this war were over and won,” but that “nothing is more important at this point in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East” and asked Congress to bear with his recently announced surge.\

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\ That leads us to this year’s speech. Mr. Bush, in his final State of the Union address Monday, will inevitably run up against questions of his legacy, whether he references it or not, but he will also circle back to themes he has not made central in his annual speech since the beginning of his first term.\ \ \ For the first time since his inaugural SOTU in 2001, the central focus of Mr. Bush’s speech will probably not be terrorism or Iraq. Or at least, those topics will have to share the spotlight with domestic concerns over the economy.\ \ \ One year after Mr. Bush said the economy was “on the move,” the country is facing a recession, and the Bush administration has scrambled to reach an economic stimulus deal with Congress.\ \ \ In 2001, the central plank of Mr. Bush’s first SOTU was an argument for his tax cuts, which were passed that year.\ \ \ But in 2002, the president understandably focused on responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in 2003 he made the case for invading Iraq, and every speech since then has in some way revolved around the need to stay the course in Iraq and the broader Middle East.\ \ \ Violence in Iraq has decreased over the last year, in large part due to the president’s surge of 30,000 troops. And while Mr. Bush may strut a tiny bit over that fact, he’ll still acknowledge that the situation there is “fragile.”\ \ \ White House press secretary Dana Perino yesterday said that the speech will be “forward-looking, not retrospective in any way,” and said Mr. Bush is spending “an hour here or there” this week running through the speech.\ \ \ Mrs. Perino also pointed out that presidents do have the ability to call Congress together for an additional SOTU at the end of their presidency. \ \ \ Presidents Johnson and Ford are the only two U.S. presidents to do this.\ \ \ Mrs. Perino said that next week’s speech “will likely be the last” for Mr. Bush. \ \ That’s not closing the door.\

\ \ — Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

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