From the right, George Will and Robert Novak weren't thrilled with Tuesday evening's SOTU:
The president's headline-grabbing assertion that America is "addicted" to oil is wonderfully useless. If it means only -- and what else can it mean? -- that in the near term we will urgently need a lot of oil, it is banal. The amusingly discordant word "addicted" couched censoriousness -- the president as national scold; our use of oil as somehow irresponsible -- in the vocabulary of addiction, which is the therapeutic language of Oprah Nation.
Not to worry. The president says that by 2025 America will "replace" -- a certain ambiguity there -- "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East." Replace with what? Other oil? Never mind. Such recurring goals, located safely over the horizon, resemble Soviet agricultural quotas, except that no one will be shot when they are not met.
While jumping up on cue to cheer during the speech and delivering rave reviews afterward in the Capitol's Statuary Hall, conservative members of Congress were deeply disappointed by George W. Bush Tuesday night. It was not merely that the president abandoned past domestic goals. He appeared to be moving toward bigger government.
The consensus on the Right was that President Bush's fifth State of the Union Address was his worst.
With polls showing the president's approval rating persistently anemic (as low as 39 percent), the speech aimed at a kinder, gentler Bush. But beyond atmospherics, the policy initiatives staked out new directions in the sixth year of his presidency that raised questions. Is this the real George W. Bush? Is he really his true father's son and not Ronald Reagan's?
The president proposed that the government preside over a wide array of non-petroleum energy options. That has all the characteristics of an ''industrial policy,'' with the federal government picking winners and losers. While violating the Republican Party's free market philosophy, this is a course with a lengthy pedigree of failure all over the world.
The same State of the Union address that neglected the Republican goal of reforming the tax system called for an American Competitiveness Initiative that also promises an extension of growing, intrusive government. That would expand still more the federal role in education. Instead of shrinking the federal government, Bush wants to grow it.
From the left, PZ Myers explains what the president meant by "human/animal hybrids" while Michael Berube defends the rights of mermaids.
Meanwhile, DCMedia Girl reminds us that Bush's SOTU's are more memorable than Clinton's.