Most newspaper editorials gave President Bush’s State of the Union address thumbs up for its emotional strength and thumbs down for making the case for immediate war with Iraq.
Acknowledging that the president showed passion and determination, the New York Times said, Bush “has never been as effective in making the case for immediate intervention or for going to war absent broad international support.”
The Times said, “While there is a natural fear that Iraq might give arms or biological weapons to terrorists, the administration has not been able to connect the dots, or even to demonstrate that Iraq has a history of aiding terrorism as clear as that of some American allies in the region.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that Bush “laid a compelling, at times emotional case for Iraq’s failure to comply with United Nations resolutions, and for the basic evil that is Saddam Hussein.”
“But the American people have yet to be convinced that war on Iraq is consistent with the national mission,” the paper said.
“In seeking to corral the support of the American public, the president sought to make an emotional connection between the 9/11 tragedy and going after Hussein,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. “The rhetoric worked. But many facts remain to be filled in.”
“It was a masterful speech, delivered with conviction and sincerity, but it was only partially successful,” said the Charlotte Observer. “On Iraq, he presented little new information.”
The Houston Chronicle said, “This State of the Union address needed persuasive reasoning more than stern and elegant phrasing.”
The San Antonio Express-News said, “The administration must provide more details on the Iraqi threat and Saddam’s connection to terrorism to convince the American public that war is justified.”
The Washington Post said: “Bush revealed little of the intelligence the administration says it has on the Iraqi arsenal, and he said little about what the costs of war might be, or about the commitment the United States would make to a postwar Iraq. His case against Saddam Hussein was strong; but it left him with much still to do in the coming weeks.”
The Post said that Bush “blithely ignored a connection that ought to be obvious: that there is, or should be, a tradeoff between the huge continuing costs of the war on terrorism and the ability of the government to offer both expensive new social programs and tax cuts for the wealthy.”
“President Bush gave Saddam Hussein his best verbal shot,” wrote the Baltimore Sun. “He painted the Iraqi dictator in the must lurid of colors—all, undoubtedly, accurate.”
“But Americans weren’t looking for emotion last night. No one in this country disputes that terrible things have been carried out under Saddam Hussein’s rule. Americans wanted to hear and understand: Why war, and why now? Mr. Bush gave them very little to work with,” the editorial read.
In one of the hardest hitting comments, the Sun said, “Bush shows every sign of being obsessed with Iraq.”
With gradations, some editorial pages said Bush made his case for war.
“Mr. Bush’s speech Tuesday was a success,” said the Orlando Sentinel, while stressing that “much work lies ahead” for the president.
“Even many Americans inclined to back their commander in chief are wondering why the United States needs to risk confronting Iraq now,” the editorial said, asserting that Bush strengthened his argument “with a litany of specifics.”
The Indianapolis Star said that the nation’s anxiety, “no matter how justified, must not deter our resolve to make the world safe for our children.”
“If President Bush achieved nothing else in his State of the Union address …, he reminded Americans that safety and prosperity are inextricably linked and both depend on winning the war on terror,” the Star said.
The strongest editorial support for war came from the Birmingham News, saying that Bush was compassionate, conservative, confident and convincing.
“If anything, Bush’s speech made more clear than ever that there will be war, unless Iraq finally complies with U.N. resolutions. In bolstering his case Bush offered old and new information,” read the editorial.
Click here to read President Bush’s State of the Union address.