GWU Issues Management

A blog established for the George Washington University School of Political Management's Issues Management course.

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Location: Washington, D.C., United States

A middle aged white guy, who likes to think, talk and, too infrequently, write about politics, religion and gadgets.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Now That's What I'm Talkin' About

OK, thanks everyone who commented on the previous post. I truly enjoyed reading your posts. I am going to have to develop a scorecard so I know who's who.

I learned some things. For me, these new technologies tend to amaze. For you guys, they are simply tools. If they make things easier for you, you use them, if not, you don't. Very practical approach.

I remain convinced that anyone seeking to master issues management must be conversant with these technologies and where this is all heading. On the other hand, it is important not to get distracted by the latest fad. I was around to see the "Newton." Anybody every heard of that? I think it was an Apple device and was the original hand held. It was about the size of a brick and was supposed to be able to read handwriting. It couldn't and eventually became the source of much ridicule. So, it is right to be a point.

Be that as it may, let's move on.

On Tuesday, we will have an event that is "issues management" writ large, the President's State of the Union address. In general, these speeches generally don't move issues on their own, but they do identify issues in a pretty powerful way. The President has a unique ability to put issues on the policy agenda every day of the week. But State of the Union is where he lays it all out.

I don't think this one will have the drama of Clinton's 1998 State of the Union, which was delivered the day after Monica Lewinsky burst upon the American stage. But it is the first one delivered with the public largely in opposition to President Bush, both in general and in specific. The only issue where he commands a majority of the public support is terrorism. But advanced word suggests that healthcare will be a big topic.

So, here's the kind of comments I would like. Please give a review of the speech on Tuesday night or Wednesday. Identify the top three issues and give him a rating from 1 to 5 on how effectively he "managed" those "issues." Elaboration is welcomed, but not necessary. "One" suggests he was very effective and would likely enhance his chances for successful policy change on that issue. "Five" suggests total disaster in that he reduced his ability to achieve whatever goal he set out.

As always, comments can be lengthy and in-depth or just identify the issues with the ratings.

Oh, one final point of personal privilege. I take offense at anyone calling someone's desire for a plasma TV as "desperate." I resemble that remark.

See you Thursday.


Blogger nkatona said...

International freedom and the ridding of terrorism globally...although a noble cause, after 5 years of trial and many errors the President receives a 4 for his efforts and his future efforts. American freedom and democracy is not the freedom and democracy that all nations have to live up to. Palestine has had their first democratic vote and chose a radical fundametalist oraganization...that is democracy!

Social programs...rid ourselves from the grasp of oil, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the infamous social security reform. Although noble in his presentation President Bush has blinders on and does not realize that his programs do not benefit the many...but rather the few. He receives a 5 for the likliehood that his programs will succeed...I do appreciate the President allowing the Democrats to have their day on national television by applauding their blocking of the harmful social security reform.

Finally...ethics...abortion, medial advances via stem cell research, and public responsiblity. Being led by an individual who is against medical advances for the dying and disabled, hindering or harming the lives of women and mothers, while meeting and having photos taken with a man who has been indicted by a federal court for illegal and unethical measures, I find the President's remarks smug and self-serving. Cleaning up the government will begin when the President is honest and open with the American people. He receives a 4 for this initiative.

Overall uninspring and lackluster but a typical George W. Bush State of the Union.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Princeton Dem said...

I'm not going to go into too much detail about what I thought of the speech. Generally, I thought it was a little hollow and I'd be surprised if the President gets more than a day or two of "bump" out of the speech.

As for the issues, I thought the speech was divided into three sections. For the opening, "Confrontation with 21st-century Totalitarianism" (because I refuse to say "War on Terror" one more time), the President gets a 3.

On the middle section, "American Economic Competitiveness," he gets a 4. The ideas were ok, but I don't think that speech reframed or measurably advanced energy independence or our role in the global marketplace.

Finally, on the section I guess I'll call "Domestic Tranquility" for serious lack of a better term, the President ranks another 4. I very rarely agree with the President on social issues, and last night was no exception. Even beyond that, I just didn't think he laid out a compelling vision on health care, civil rights, or honest government.

All in all, a missed opportunity. But, as George Stephanopoulos pointed out last night, "we're broke," so I'm not sure where the President could have summoned the resources of any major new initiatives anyway.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Johnny Utah said...

The process for managing issues in the SOTU started well before GWB took to the podium, with the selective leaking of speech materials (par for the course, of course). His team made clear he planned to focus on “kitchen table issues,” conjuring up a big slice of good ol’ Americana, like baseball, apple pie and domestic spying (sorry…strike that last one).

Iraq – 1. Bush brought nothing new to his well vaunted “table.” We keep hearing of sticking to the plan, but have seen nothing resembling a plan.

Healthcare – 2. Big ticket item on everyone’s mind. Hurray for electronic record keeping. Boo for HSAs. But he did not fully address ways to actually cut costs (i.e. lower prescription drug prices).

Energy – 3. Clearly the high point of the night for the Prez. Also ironic. As one pundit put it, here you have a Texan in every sense of the word calling for America to end its “addiction to oil.”

I don’t tip my 10-gallon hat to Bush often, but his efforts on energy was the sole shining light in a dreary, hollow slog of a speech.

8:44 AM  
Blogger ABPITT said...

Promoting democracy worldwide focusing on the war in Iraq - gets a 3. Same old, same old. Maybe someone found this section of his speech stimulating but it certainly wasn't me.

Energy - gets a 4. Bringing it up was a step but nothing new or exciting.

Tax Cuts, Economy, Etc. - gets a 4, although I would like to give a 1 and watch his permanent tax cuts fail miserably so that everyone can applaud its failure as they did for the President's social security initiative.

10:30 AM  
Blogger ajyass said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:45 AM  
Blogger ajyass said...

The Bush administration set-up the State of the Union to be an empty speech. Since the weekend all the news outlets were talking about how this the SOTU was not going to lay out any new plans, or even new ideas, because there is no money in the budget. This was intended to give us all low expectation for Bush, which it did. No one expected anything to come out of this SOTU, and that is what Bush delivered. Basically the only real point Bush wanted to make was stay the course. He wants his fellow Republicans to be safe in the upcoming mid-term election. This was the major issue for Bush throughout the speech, and on this I would give Bush a 3. He did not directly address any attacks on the Republican Party, but he was trying to paint a positive picture for his party.
As for other issues, I think the first one was stabilizing the Middle East, and I would only give Bush a 4. He merely repeated the same things he has been saying to try and convince the public to continue fighting in Iraq. If he has not been effective in this so far, why would saying it during the SOTU be any different?
Next I thought he made an issue out of energy, and again I would give him a 4. He called for sweeping changes in what Americans use for energy, yet he outlined very little for the government to do to aid this process.

I did however like Kaine's response to the SOTU. His speech was very well organized, with a consistent message- there is a better way. He also spoke of specific polices and programs, which gave his speech more substance.

11:45 AM  
Blogger ajyass said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Wal-Mart Walter III said...

I had a feeling this blog would not consist of posts which rate the President’s SOTU very highly, but it is politics, where objectivity becomes a relative term, right? With that said here is my completely objective view.

This definitely was not the most momentous speech the President has given while in office, but no one really expected that anyway. I think the speech was exactly what it was intended to be in the current political climate. In other words, it was a safe speech. As for the issues…

“War on Terror” rating 2 – The President continues to rightly make the point that the establishment of liberty in the Middle East is not only in America’s and the world’s best interest, it is a fundamental right all people deserve. Although, miscues have taken place in this struggle, the overall issue is being managed well with the world now rallying around addressing the problem of Iran.

“Economic Growth” rating 3 – Although I believe the economy has grown and remains strong mostly due to tax cuts championed by the President, there are undoubtedly issues we will need to address sooner rather then later (i.e. illegal immigration, outsourcing, China / India). I think there needs to be more then solely a “less is more” argument when dealing with how the administration will react to these areas in the future.

“Energy” rating 1 – Energy became the true headline issue of this SOTU, not health care like previously expected. The President took a noble and unexpected stand on this issue. This is an issue that needs to be embraced by both sides and should delight Democrats. However, I do not actually expect the Democrats to stand firm on an issue and support the initiative.

12:14 PM  
Blogger roscoe p coldchain said...

"War on Terror" - 3

I don't think he hurt himself here, but he also did not lay out anything new

"Energy" - 2

I think his admition that the US is addicted to oil was pretty remarkable. His willingness to state the obvious is at least a step in the right direction.

"Economy" - 4

Nothing new here when things are not as rosy as he'd like to believe. His disconnect with those who are less well off than others is starting to make me sick.

1:11 PM  
Blogger chitown_grrrl said...

Overall, I was unimpressed, although I've never really been impressed by his speeches. I found his sentiment almost lacking in vision and enthusiasm, it seemed very, for lack of a better word, blah.
As for issues:
Taxes: I give him a 1, and that's generous. Making the tax cuts permanent?? I don't think he'll ever be able to explain that as a logical fiscal decision.
Healthcare: I give him a 2. The rhetoric was good, but I couldn't find the plan hidden in it.
Energy: I give him a 3, just for the line about "America is addicted to oil" It really seemed incredible until I realized that oil=foreign oil. Although this issue seemed a little more concrete, if a somewhat modest proposal.

2:47 PM  
Blogger green elephant said...

Continuing the War of Terror, etc. He made a good point out unique position to handle international problems. Other than that I agree that it was nothing substantially new and not able to change the tide in terms of policy. He's managed this issue more than any other through most of his administration, but this speech didn't do much to stem further voter fatigue with the war. 3

The Advanced Energy Initiative was probably the more refreshing proposal, with a bit more sense of change about it. "Addicted to oil" was catching line that the media easily picked up and centered on. Most seemed to be in agreement with the bulk of what he said on this matter. It's off to a strong start. I give it a 2.

The Competitiveness Initiative was somewhat lackluster in comparison. Pumping more money into R&D is nothing new and difficult to make salient. Also, I don't see the logic of more advanced classes if earlier grades aren't propelling the kids to a compatible point by high school. The education reforms in particular might have trouble given the mediocre Left Behind results so far. If anything it will shift more attention back to the state and local uproar over Bush's education policy. But as long as he doesn't revive vouchers he's got a majority for it. I'd say 3.

5:13 AM  
Blogger BlueGirl said...

In my opinion, the President's speech was, all in all, lackluster. Steering clear from his bold initiatives outlined in the 2005 State of Union, such as Social Security, the President barely scratched the surface of issues that are of most concern to America. A whopping 4 sentences on health care, and addressing gay marriage and Hurricane Katrina in the same sentence...this man is totally in touch with the country.

The 3 dominant issues were:
1) Terrorism and National Security.
On this issue, I give him a 4. President Bush has lost much of his credibility on this issue. We have heard it all before - freedom and democracy are awesome.

2) Economic Competitiveness. I give the President a 4. He claimed the economy is just fine, and aside from urging the tax cuts to be made permanent, he offered no other course of action (except for more math and science classes for high schoolers). According to Bush, there is not a problem with the economy anymore. Tell that to the rest of the country.

3) Energy. On this issue, I also give the President a 4. I think he does not have credibility on this issue either. It is a nice idea in theory, but I still can't believe it came from Bush. Totally ironic. Gasoline from straw grass and woodchips? Why not focus on something more obtainable such as raising fuel standards and worry about burning woodchips later?

Overall, I did not hear anything new, different, or inspiring. Although, I did enjoy the cut aways to the audience...always entertaining.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Dollar Phil said...

I'm generally inclined to agree with ajyass. The Bush Administration plays the expectations game pretty well; they set this one up to be domestically focused and low on vision. The problem with setting low expectations is that sometimes you meet them.


Terrorism: 2

Does he have anything new to say? Freedom is on the march. We get it. PS: your assertion early in the speech about dictators promoting terrorism and dangerous weapons is as wrong (about Iraq) as it was the day you made it. Know how many terrorist attacks there were by Iraqis against Americans before we invaded? None. They tried to carbomb GHW Bush once in Kuwait, but got in a fender-bender on the way to the scene.

Energy: 4

America is, in fact, addicted to oil. There was some good talk about alternatives, and he set good goals. I thought he did pretty good on energy for a kid from an oil family.

Health care: 3

Again, good words (mostly). When is the rubber going to meet the road?

10:24 AM  
Blogger Boston Dem said...

I wam very inclined to agree with Princeton Dem in his assessment that the President doesn't have the resources or political capital to push through new initiatives. With that said, the SOTU was very light on substance and resembled the standard rhetoric that the Bush propaganda machine pumps out on a regular basis. Overall he gets a 4.

On the issues, I give him the following marks:
Energy - I laughed out loud when he said that we are "addicted to oil". There is no greater irony than that statement coming out of his mouth. While it was bold for him to say this, this is nothing that the rest of the country doesn;t already know. 4

Iraq - Bush didn't put forth any new ideas here and still did not give any commitments in terms of an exit plan. He needs to start talking about withdrawal if hr expects to get points on this issue. 5

Social Security - While this was not one of the main issues he was trying to push forth, why would he bring this up and allow the Democrats to expose his failure in getting his agenda pushed through Congress? I understand wanting to show his more vulnerable side to an electorate that thinks he is arrogant, but not at the expense at giving congressional Democrats an applause line during his speech. 5

Overall, Bush lived up to his very low expectations.

12:12 PM  

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