Bush State of the Union Speech Pushes War on Iraq

January 29, 2003

President Bush delivered the annual State of the Union speech last night before a war nervous Congress, the American public, and world-wide audience. The carefully-scripted speech began with a hodgepodge review of domestic issues, but cut-to-the-chase halfway when the President all but promised a war against the oil-rich Iraqi regime.

The Bush domestic program amounted to little. Almost amazingly, the worsening recession was ignored, and the un-prosecuted corporate crime wave was barely mentioned. The President blamed the health care crisis on overzealous trial lawyers, and promised to extend further tax cuts to big business and the wealthy as his way of reviving the stumbling economy. His proposal would grant the average taxpayer a $289 tax cut, with more than 42 million working people seeing no tax relief at all. The average millionaire would receive an additional $90,000 tax cut under the Bush scheme.

President Bush also announced such domestic initiatives as the need to allow religious organizations to receive federal funding for drug and alcohol treatment, as well as his inclination to support a Medicare managed care prescription drug program. Bush offered no explanation for how he intended to win support from his own Republican Party for the prescription plan, and Senate Republican majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said the Senate might consider the Bush proposal “in six months.”

The incoherence of the domestic half of the President’s speech was more than offset by his strident rhetoric against the Iraq regime. In spite of all indications that both domestic and world public opinion is tilting heavily against a military attack on Iraq, the President used the State of the Union speech to deliver an ultimatum to both the United Nations (U.N.) and Iraq. Bush explained that Secretary of State Colin Powell would speak to the U.N. Security Council on February 5th, and then announced his intention to proceed with hostilities no matter what the U.N. reaction to Powell’s “evidence” against Iraq. Several leading Democrats severely criticized the Bush speech and its virtual war declaration, including Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus.