Sometimes, during a speech, what is left unsaid is more telling than the words uttered. This was certainly true during Monday night's State of the Union address by President Bush, his seventh and last.
The speech was heavy on economic matters - a big concern for voters - and Iraq, which will undoubtedly be the focal point of the Bush legacy. But several major issues and themes of contemporary importance were painfully and blatantly missing.
For example, the president said the name Osama bin Laden just once. This, however, should not have come as much of a surprise. In 2006 the Al Qaeda leader's name came up only twice, despite the fact that after 9/11 Bush pledged to get him "dead or alive."
Pakistan, a country where bin Laden is likely hiding, was named twice in Monday's night's speech. Neither mention carried with it any insight or window into the president's foreign policy outlook vis-a-vis the country. Benazir Bhutto, the slain opposition leader from Pakistan, did not make an appearance in the president's speech.
The word "poverty" was mentioned just once in the president's address, and that was in the context of global humanitarian assistance. According to the 2004 Census Bureau more than 35 million people live below the poverty line in the United States.
Some of the major focuses of past State of the Union addresses barely surfaced in Monday night's affair, perhaps because they also constitute some of the president's most public failures.
The phrase "Social Security" was mentioned just once, although the president did discuss the need to overhaul entitlement programs.
The word "immigration," meanwhile, came up just three times, although the president did address the need for border control and a policy that allows foreign workers to come to the United States.
Katrina, which received some focus in Bush's 2005 speech (the Hurricane had struck the Gulf Coast months before) but nary a mention in 2006, again was absent from the political spotlight. The president did, however, say that "the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast."
Shockingly, the words "September 11" (or 9/11) left Bush's lips just twice. SOTU drinking games were undoubtedly upended.
And finally, the word "change," which has become the preponderant focus of the 2008 campaign, was uttered not a single time by the president, a true reflection of lame-duck status.
So what words did get a lot of play. "Congress" was a big focus of the speech, getting mentioned 27 times. "Iraq" logged in with 21 mentions and "Iraqis" got an additional dozen. "Tax" had 14 call outs, as did "terrorist" and "fight." "Freedom" and "Al Qaeda", staples of SOTU's past, were uttered ten and eleven times, respectively.
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