President Bush used almost 5,500 words in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. While editorial pages examine the speech’s broad strokes, take a closer look at its building blocks: words.
President Bush used some form of the word “economy” 13 times, though two of those times it referred not to the American economy, but to the economies of North Korea and Iraq. Bush spoke of “economic stagnation” for North Korea if it refuses to disarm, and the “economic sanctions” that have failed to change Saddam Hussein’s policies.
Bush used the phrase “tax relief” three times and mentioned the “environment” four times.
He spoke of health care seven times and mentioned the AIDS crisis 11 times.
When President Bush turned to foreign affairs, he spoke of a “war on terror” roughly six times and mentioned “al Qaeda” eight times.
Bush also said of a potential conflict with Iraq: “If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means—sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military—and we will prevail.”
There were two references to U.S. “allies,” three to the “coaltion” against Saddam Hussein, and six references to the United Nations.
Bush referenced things nuclear (weapons, arms, materials, ambitions) 12 times and used the American Dialect Society’s “word of the year“—”weapons of mass destruction”—four times.
Bush spoke of North Korea and the Korean Peninsula six times, but referred to Iraq and the Iraqi people 22 times. He uttered the name of “Saddam Hussein” 19 times and called him a “dictator” thrice. Bush did not mention Osama bin Laden.
Bush talked of “peace” 10 times, using the word several times in the phrase: “We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all.”
Unlike last year’s address, Bush avoided the phrase “axis of evil,” but he still referred to “the designs of evil men” and “the man-made evil of international terrorism.” After cataloguing Hussein’s atrocities toward his own people, Bush said, “If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.” The statement drew large applause.
Bush referred to “God” four times, eliciting applause when he said, “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”
Bush did not speak of “Allah,” nor did he use the words “Muslim,” Christian” or “Jew.”
In Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, he used the word “freedom” 14 times. He spoke of “freedom” four times Tuesday night.
“As we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan,” the president said, “we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies—and freedom.”
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director for EthicsDaily.com.
Click here to read a transcript of President Bush’s speech.
Click here for analysis of last year’s State of the Union address.