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Analysts Weigh Bush’s Final State of Union, Democratic Response

In his final State of the Union address, President Bush urged Congress not to delay the economic stimulus bill, while Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius urged for bipartisan efforts to address health care and global warming. Analysts consider the speeches.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    All right. Now, we can now see again David Brooks of The New York Times and Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    As I say, they have been here.

    First, Ruth, an overview here. How did — just your general impression of the speech, on any way, any way you want to approach.

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    I was struck by a few things.

    First was the essential modesty of the speech. It was a speech by a president who knew the limitations of his time in office and the limitations of the Congress he was dealing with.

    So, what he set out were broad ideas, some proposals that were old that he didn't have very much hope for getting achieved, some proposals that he knew realistically were going to be left to another Congress, and some assertions about the importance of Iraq and staying the course on the foreign policy set.

    The other thing I was very much struck by was something that you just mentioned, which is the real change from a year ago, for good and for bad. The good is that the situation in Iraq is so much better than had been anticipated. As the president acknowledged, there are still many hurdles…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Still problems.

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    … but it is a different situation on that.

    At the same time, the economy is much worse shape. And, last year, at this time, we were all kind of suspending disbelief and thinking very hopefully that, gee, maybe new Congress, we could have some bipartisanship. I think we're all a little bit sadder and wiser this year. And we know, despite this stimulus package, if it gets passed, that's probably the last hurrah.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Last hurrah for bipartisanship?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, maybe. They were able to work out some energy and some things.

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    But I was struck by — this sort of goes at what Ruth series, by the series of big challenges he said are still in front of you guys. I'm going to be out of town, but you guys are just going to have to deal with immigration. You guys are going to have to deal with entitlements. You guys are going to have to deal with Iraq, No Child Left Behind.

    I actually liked the defense of No Child Left Behind, which is a measured bill, which has mixed….

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And he was very straight and strong about it.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    And with some evidence. I mean, it has problems, but we never hear about the good side. And the test scores he reported are actually true. And the gains in African- Americans and Hispanics, those are true.

    And, so, I actually was glad to see his side of the argument get a little airing. But, nonetheless, there was the restatement of his general philosophy, which is not new. But there was the laying out of all these problems that are still in front of the country and which he will leave behind, having, in some cases, made a good-faith effort, sometimes unsuccessfully. But, in any case, they were not resolved.