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DEMOCRACY NOW! SPECIAL: Behind Bush’s State of the Union

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In the third State of the Union address of his term, President Bush defended the war on Iraq, called for the renewal of the Patriot Act, praised the improving economy and called for a ban on gay marriage. We spend the hour listening to responses to Bush’s address that paint a different picture of the State of the Union.

In his State of the Union address last night President Bush defended the war on Iraq, called for the renewal of the Patriot and reached out to the conservative Christian wing of the Republican Party by calling for a ban on gay marriage.

Despite the loss of 2.5 million jobs since he took office, Bush also rigorously praised the improving economy and called for Congress to make last year’s tax cuts permanent.

The address was deliberately scheduled to take place a night after the Iowa caucus in an attempt to push the Democratic presidential contenders from the news spotlight. Although Bush never mentioned the election, the speech was seen by many as the start of Bush’s re-election campaign. It came three years to the day after he took the oath of the office.

On Iraq, Bush claimed if the US did not invade Iraq, "the dictator’s weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day." But he did not acknowledge that U.S. inspectors have uncovered no unconventional weapons.

A year ago at the 2003 State of the Union, Bush made the case for war by claiming that Iraq had 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tones of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas and 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.

After 10 months of weapons searches, none of this has been uncovered.

On foreign policy, Bush defended his unilateralist approach saying "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people." Later in the Democratic response, Nancy Pelosi said "a go-it-alone foreign policy that leaves us isolated abroad and that steals the resources we need for education and health care at home."

We spend the hour listening to responses to Bush’s address from award-winning Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy, former head of the UN mission to Iraq Hans Von Sponeck, the Institute for Public Accuracy’s Norman Solomon, Leslie Cagan of the United for Peace and Justice, the ACLU’s Anthony Romero, TransAfrica President Bill Fletcher and gay community organizer Brendan Fay.

Read the London Independent’s statistics on "George W Bush and the real state of the Union"

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