State of the Union Address 2007: Instant Analysis

Atlantic correspondent and former Presidential speechwriter James Fallows shares his impressions of Bush's speech

Also see:

State of the Union: Post Mortem
Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, annotated by The Atlantic's James Fallows

This was two different speeches, perhaps three. The first speech, on domestic policy, was list-like, uninspired, and uninspiring—apparently even to the President himself, who trudged through it as if seeing the text for the first time. The second speech, about terrorism, Iraq, and foreign policy, reawakened Bush's own interest and advanced his case about as well as a speech at this point could.

The third speech, the brief, closing "Lenny Skutnik" portion, was the best part of the speech and the most skillful execution of this ritual that has been seen in years.

And, oh, yes, the President couldn't help himself. His text took the bold step of not ending with "God Bless America." But this apparently was so startling that President Bush had to say, "God bless..." to know that he was done.

By the way, if anyone is watching Jim Webb...

Also see:
James Fallows's Web site, with regularly updated dispatches, and information about his writings and appearances.

I am biased, but I thought this was the most formidable response to the President's speech the Democrats could possibly have offered. The controlled ferocity of the last two minutes of that talk, which covered what is often called "up and down" loyalty—the loyalty and respect troops owe their commanders, but the competence and judgment their commanders owe them—had the good-for-TV quality of being hard to turn away from, and the unfakeable sense of coming directly from Webb's mind and heart. More on this speech tomorrow. (And, yes, it ended "God Bless America.")