The speech is here. It was stylistically and substantively better than Id been led to expect. The domestic policy proposals (e.g., tax deductions for private health insurance and school vouchers) were, as NROs Peter Robinson noted, conservative (for the most part). I couldnt help but notice that they didnt make Nancy Pelosi happy.
I was heartened by the way he spoke about our war against the terrorists, both in describing their aims and in showing that the struggle evolves as each side adapts to the others initiatives. This is grown-up talk:
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)
This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments youve made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure.
Now have at it.