Proclaiming that the American “republic will lead the
great cause of freedom,” President Bush wrestled away the
political spotlight from the Democratic presidential hopefuls for
at least one evening as he delivered the State of the Union address
to a joint session of Congress last night.

Kate Green
JORDAN STECKLOFF/Daily
Students sitting in East Quad Residence Hall watch President Bush address the nation in his State of the Union speech yesterday. Bush, who spoke for 54 minutes, focuses on terrorism and the recent success of the economy.

In what was billed as the unofficial beginning to the
President’s re-election campaign, Bush spent the majority of
his 54-minute speech praising the war on terrorism and the recent
economic growth. He also spent time discussing education and
definition of marriage.

“We refuse to live in the shadow of the ultimate
danger,” Bush said, referring to what he called the continued
threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Bush subsequently spoke of American triumphs in the area of
national defense — which he billed as the nation’s top
priority for the upcoming year — highlighting recent
successes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

After praising law enforcement officials for their
“vigilance in protecting America,” Bush defended the
Patriot Act, calling it necessary in the fight against terrorism.
He added that similar methods that some consider controversial in
the Patriot Act are being used successfully against drug dealers
and embezzlers without problems.

But as Bush announced key provisions of the Patriot Act were set
to expire this year, he was interrupted by cheers from the
Democratic elements of the audience, who generally oppose the
Patriot Act.

“The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule.
Law enforcement needs this vital legislation to protect our
citizens — you need to renew the Patriot Act,” Bush
countered.

Bush also defended the reasons for going to war in Iraq, saying
that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein hid weapons of mass
destruction, disobeyed numerous United Nations resolutions and
tortured or killed countless Iraqis.

Shifting to domestic issues, Bush credited tax cuts for the
recent economic improvement. “The American economy is growing
stronger and the tax relief you passed is working,” he
said.

The president also made an appeal for the continuation of tax
cuts. “These numbers (of economic improvement) confirm that
American people are using their money far better than government
could’ve and you were right to return it,” Bush said.
“Unless you act, Americans face a tax increase. … The
tax cuts you passed should be permanent.”

Turning to education, Bush defended the No Child Left Behind
Program,” which has been criticized for imposing excessive
standardized testing.

“We expect third graders to read at a third grade
level,” Bush said. “I refuse to give up on any
child.”

Bush also proposed higher education grants to high school
students who take a rigorous course load, as well as job training
for workers who are falling behind the technology curve.

Speaking on marriage law, Bush criticized “activist
judges” for changing marriage definitions against the will of
the people. “A strong America must also value the institution
of marriage. I believe we should respect individuals as we take a
principled stand for one of the most fundamental, enduring
institutions of our civilization,” he said.

Article two of the United States Constitution mandates the
President reports to Congress periodically on the state of affairs
in the nation as well as “recommend measures as he shall
judge necessary and expedient.”

Contrary to previous media reports, Bush did not speak about the
expansion of the space program. Last week Bush publicly announced
his hopes for future manned missions to the moon and Mars.

Last night’s speech marked the 71st time a President has
delivered the address to Congress, CNN reported.

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