Bipartisanship Evident at the President's State of the Union Speech

By Josiah Ryan | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

On the Spot ( - Even Democratic leaders were talking about bipartisanship Tuesday night as President Bush delivered his seventh and final State of the Union Address in the House chamber.

"If the President holds fast to the commitment he made to bipartisanship tonight, we can make great progress for the American people this year," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a joint statement issued after Bush's speech.

In his speech, President Bush urged congressional Democrats to join his administration in completing unfinished business to protect Americans and to ensure economic prosperity.

The president drew applause from both Democrats and Republicans Tuesday night. In fact, a few of the room-sweeping standing ovations were even initiated by Democrats. However, some Democrats hissed and guffawed when Bush praised the successes of the No Child Left Behind program and when Bush insisted that telecommunications companies must be immune from prosecution for their role in warrantless wiretapping.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told Cybercast News Service that the Democratic applause does not indicate support for the president's policies. "A lot of the issues were just applause lines," said Nelson. "The president is good at delivering those, but really, it was politics as usual."

While agreeing that Democrats and Republicans "must work together to make progress on our most pressing challenges," Sens. Reid and Pelosi also insisted that President Bush "offered little more than the status quo" in his speech.

"At a time when our economy is on shaky ground and our leadership around the world is eroding, the status quo won't do," the Democratic leaders said. "We hope that the bipartisanship on the economic stimulus package that has marked the start of this new year is a sign of things to come. But the President must do much more than simply give speeches that promise progress and commit to cooperation -- he must work with Congress to make it happen," Reid and Pelosi said.

The most partisan act of the evening happened after most lawmakers and reporters had left the House chamber. Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) objected to the entire speech. But her objection was promptly declared out of order by Pelosi.

Watson later told Cybercast News Service that the president's speech was a "misstatement about our country."

"I was better before I heard this State of the Union," Watson said.

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