ABC's Raddatz: Bush Speech Full of 'Sad Echoes' of What He's Said 'So Many Times'

A few minutes after President George W. Bush finished his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, ABC News White House reporter Martha Raddatz scolded him for repeating “sad echoes” of things he's said “so many times in the past.” As if that makes Bush's warnings, about the threat from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda or how terrorists could come to the U.S. if we lose in Iraq, any less of a realistic threat.

Raddatz lectured: “I thought tonight there was some sad echoes of things he said so many times in the past. When he got to this global war on terror, when he got to Iraq, and you heard him concentrate on that global war on terrorism, those were the sad echoes. He brought up al Qaeda again, he brought up Osama bin Laden. He brought up Zarqawi in Iraq, who died many, many months ago. That's what he concentrated on. He avoided, to a great degree, the sectarian violence which is really the major problem in Iraq and once again, told Americans that if we didn't succeed in Iraq that the terrorists could come to the United States. And he's said that so many times in the past.”

George Stephanopoulos characterized the address as “much more confrontational” than last year's speech since “the President told the Congress hindsight alone is not wisdom, second-guessing is not a strategy, basically you must support me.”

Echoing Raddatz's point about sectarian violence in Iraq, on NBC at about the same moment Andrea Mitchell castigated Bush for warning of a threat which is already reality:
“When he talked tonight about the nightmare scenario of Sunni and Shia extremists up against each other should we fail in Iraq, should we not continue, that, according to critics in both parties, is what is already happening in the streets of Baghdad and in Anbar province. So that is why he is not going to get the support for the Iraq policy that he is appealing for tonight.”
Transcript of the post-speech analysis on ABC at about 10:07pm EST, comments to which the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me:
Martha Raddatz: “I thought tonight there was some sad echoes of things he said so many times in the past. When he got to this global war on terror, when he got to Iraq, and you heard him concentrate on that global war on terrorism, those were the sad echoes. He brought up al Qaeda again, he brought up Osama bin Laden. He brought up Zarqawi in Iraq, who died many, many months ago. That's what he concentrated on. He avoided, to a great degree, the sectarian violence which is really the major problem in Iraq and once again, told Americans that if we didn't succeed in Iraq that the terrorists could come to the United States. And he's said that so many times in the past, Charlie.”

Charles Gibson: “And it was almost plaintive when he said we went into this largely united in our assumptions and in our convictions, and I'm quoting now: 'And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure, our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq and I ask you to give it a chance to work. I ask you to give it a chance to work and I ask you to support our troops in the field and those on their way.' And of course that got applause. 'But I ask you to give it a chance to work.'”

George Stephanopoulos: “And Charlie, what a difference that was from last year. Much more confrontational where the President told the Congress hindsight alone is not wisdom, second-guessing is not a strategy, basically you must support me. He knows he doesn't have the support in this Congress. But he also remembers the old, the old line from Tip O'Neill: If you want people to support you, you have to ask them. And he was determined to bring the Congress along with him tonight. Very tough sell”

Gibson: “And I think he's asking the Congress and he's asking the American public. Agree, George? George Will?”

George Will: “Absolutely, I do agree. I think Martha Raddatz hit it just right when she said there was a tone of sadness and melancholy in this portion of the speech, particularly this line, Charlie: 'This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in.' There's a kind of fatalism there, a sense that it's a confessional. That we did not anticipate this, but the way ahead is hardly optional in his point of view.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center