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January 20, 2004

"FOR DIPLOMACY TO BE EFFECTIVE, WORDS MUST BE CREDIBLE -- and no one can now doubt the word of America." -- George Bush, the State of the Union, January 20, 2004.

"Diplomacy has more to do with (credible) threats than with sweet reason. And 'threats from America' are a lot more credible, nowadays." InstaPundit, January 18, 2004.

UPDATE: Stephen Green is blogging the SOTU in realtime, so I don't have to. His take on Bush's many domestic initiatives (steroid testing? opposition to gay marriage?) is pretty much mine: unimpressed: "On domestic policy, Bush is the Republican Bill Clinton. No issue is too small to get his attention, if he can throw a few million dollars at it and claim 'progress.'" I guess you have to do some of this if you're President. But I don't have to like it. I like the Social Security privatization, though.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bush looks better now that the Democratic reply is on. Nancy Pelosi's unblinking, wide-eyed stare-into-the-camera delivery is just creepy. ("Please meet my captors' demands.") But judging from what she said -- and from the fact that every member of the CNN focus group, Democratic and Republican, thought the war was worth it -- I think that Ed Cone was clearly right to say that criticism of the war is approaching its sell-by date. And the Dems' program proposals aren't any more impressive than Bush's. (Daschle says that when our parents were kids, all Americans could go to good schools. Really? When my parents were kids, schools were segregated.) I kind of like Daschle's effort to coopt Newt Gingrich's "opportunity society" phrase, though.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Kerry's on ABC, waffling when asked how he'll vote on Bush's legislative proposals. Now he's waffling on the gay marriage issue -- he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act under Clinton, but he doesn't support gay marriage now. He describes his vote as "an act of courage." Then he says he agrees with Bush, but that Bush is trying to find "wedge issues." Now he's talking about Equal Protection -- but he doesn't say what that means for gay marriage. And now he's swerved off into affirmative action, all without ever answering Peter Jennings' questions about gay marriage. Lame.

MORE: The Democratic response got panned by the MSNBC focus group -- even by the Democrats. Pelosi and Daschle are criticized for delivery, lack of message. Chris Matthews notes that Tom Daschle never mentioned Iraq. Yeah, they left that to Pelosi, which doesn't seem like a good move. Bill Frist notes that only the Republicans stood up and applauded the prescription drug benefit. (I wouldn't have applauded it. Then again, I'm not a Republican.)

Meanwhile, Bill Hobbs has more analysis on the State of the Union (Tom Petty is invoked), and Spoons was liveblogging. So was Capt. Ed. (Best line: "A Republican president bragging about a 36% increase in Federal spending on education. I join the Democrats in sitting on my hands for that one. If only I were bloated, I could do a Ted Kennedy impression.") Meanwhile Howard Fineman is making fun of the Democrats for stressing the importance of food labeling. Daschle and Pelosi's TV skills are derided again: "They should have just turned it over to Martin Sheen." Ouch.

STILL MORE: Roger Simon exposes my ignorance. And a final note: The pundits all love Edwards now.