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State of the Union: Notes in the margin

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 23, 2007 09:03 PM

Jim Hoft thinks there might be disruptions from the balcony.

Brit Hume says Nancy Pelosi put on a new outfit for her historic moment at the last minute because she spilled chocolate on her suit.

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Madame Speaker

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Hang in there, Dick

Everything’s already anticlimactic from here. The full SOTU text is up–and so is Democrat Jim Webb’s rebuttal. Allah’s yawning.

Okay, I found something nice to say. There are many extraordinary people in First Lady Laura Bush’s box tonight. Take a look (via NYPost.com):

-Wesley Autrey of New York, a construction worker awarded the city’s highest civilian honor for jumping onto the tracks in a subway station to save a man who had fallen from a seizure.

-Shuqui and Syshe Autrey of New York, daughters of Wesley Autrey.

-Air Force Tech Sgt. Michelle Barefield of Goldsboro, N.C., survivor of three improvised explosive device attacks in Baghdad.

-Pamela Battle of Washington, among the first low-income parents to apply for scholarships under the D.C. School Choice Incentive Program, the nation’s first and only federally funded voucher program.

- Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Firman of Alexandria, Va., who volunteered for more than 30 convoys in Iraq and was subjected to more than 180 incidents of hostile fire.

-Shannon Hickey of Lancaster, Pa., founder at age 11 of Mychal’s Message, a nonprofit organization to further the legacy of her favorite priest, Father Mychal Judge. The New York Fire Department chaplain was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when hit by debris from the World Trade Center.

-Marine Corps Sgt. Aubrey McDade Jr. of Parris Island, S.C., who received the Navy Cross, the service’s second-highest medal, for heroic actions as a machine-gun squad leader with the 1st Marine Division in Iraq.

-Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Thomas of Hollywood, Fla., deployed overseas twice this year to support the Iraq war. He designed a law enforcement tactics video and lesson plans, training more than 500 foreign military servicemen.

-Army Sgt. Tommy Rieman of Independence, Ky., awarded the Silver Star for his actions on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq in December 2003.

Ace of Spades saves everyone the trouble of live-blogging:

Here’s my live-blog on it, delivered in advance:

“He seems uncomfortable and is just repeating many of the same tired slogans of the past, except with even less conviction… Now he’s proposing a raft of pricey new spending initiatives designed primarily to win over the support of those who hate him more — much more — than Osama bin Ladin. Okay, now he’s saying that Mexicans were good, nice people who deserved jobs more than Amercians. He’s saying something in Spanish now I don’t really understand — anyone know what Me casa, su casa means?”

And, of course, for the post-mortem:

“I think he did himself some small amount of good here tonight. He did what he needed to do.”

There.

Time for American Idol.

9:15pm. President Bush: We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies – and the wisdom to face them together.

Some in this Chamber are new to the House and Senate – and I congratulate the Democratic majority. Congress has changed, but our responsibilities have not. Each of us is guided by our own convictions – and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we are all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this Nation’s prosperity … to spend the people’s money wisely … to solve problems, not leave them to future generations … to guard America against all evil, and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.

Glenn Reynolds is happy to see earmarks mentioned right up front:

Bush: ” Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour – when not even C-SPAN is watching.”

There was a bit of laughter from the audience. I wonder if they were thinking of this:

Pelosi denies CSPAN’s request for cameras on House floor
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, denied a request Friday by CSPAN to install its own cameras on the House floor.

Under the current arrangement, the House cameras are solely operated under the discretion of the speaker, CSPAN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian Lamb told CNN.

The speakers sole control of the cameras “does a disservice to the institution and to the public,” Lamb said in a letter to Pelosi requesting a change.

In a letter to CSPAN, Pelosi responded, “I believe that the dignity and decorum of the United States House of Representatives are best preserved by maintaining the current system of televised proceedings.”

I noticed Nancy’s eyes were fluttering extra-fast for a few seconds there.

9:28pm. Bush is paying lip service to border security and moving forward with amnesty that he won’t call amnesty. Tom Tancredo is shaking his head.

There we go. The magic, meaningless words: “Comprehensive immigration reform.”

Everybody stand up!

Other low moments so far: The commander-in-chief mentioning “battery research,” “wood chips,” “agricultural waste,” and “global climate change.” Inspiring rhetoric from those overworked White House speechwriters.

9:35pm. Bush: ” With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled – that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. To win the war on terror, we must take the fight to the enemy.”

Applause.

Pelosi reaaaally didn’t want to stand up.

Here we go. The things that need to be said:

In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before September 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats … instruct with bullets and bombs … and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” And Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah – a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans … kill democracy in the Middle East … and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

In the sixth year since our Nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.

This war is more than a clash of arms – it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our Nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and come to kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom – societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies – and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers, and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security . . . we must.

In the last two years, we have seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East – and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution … drove out the Syrian occupiers … and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections – choosing a transitional government … adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world … and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity we should never forget.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam – the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia – and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

Action items:

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military – so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

FYI: That last idea is something we heard support for among officers at the Dagger Brigade when we were embedded at FOB Justice.

9:54pm. Bush mentions saving Darfur. Pelosi pops up.

9:59pm. Bush saluting citizens in the gallery. I liked the Baby Einstein videos, but what is the company’s founder doing there?

A good ending:

Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks … pulled the man into a space between the rails … and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. Wesley says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey.

Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire – and used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs – yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy’s position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and gratitude of our whole country.

In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America – and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country – and resilient, too. We have been through a lot together. We have met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence – because the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.

***

Post-mortems: Over at MSNBC, the left-wingers can’t figure out why Bush articulated the various terrorist threats from both Sunni and Shiite extremists. Chris Matthews pooh-poohed the threat of Hezbollah to America. Guess he missed the Fox News special. Hezbollah is here.

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