ABC and NBC pivoted almost immediately from President Bush's State of the Union address to the 2008 presidential campaign, but CBS stuck to Bush's speech in its post-coverage in which Katie Couric complained “a lot of it was Bush redux,” Bob Schieffer kvetched that Bush “did not say what his assessment of the state of the union was until the next to the last sentence” and historian Douglas Brinkley declared: “It's not looking good for his legacy. I mean it's hard to point to any big accomplishments.” Schieffer, however, cautioned it's too soon to assess Bush, noting: “We're only beginning now to understand completely the impact of Ronald Reagan. When he left office, we didn't know that the Soviet Union was going to collapse.”
Meanwhile, on CNN between Bush's address and the Democratic response, Jeffrey Toobin used Bush to condemn all the Republican candidates for lacking “humanity” in their approach to immigration. The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to this from Toobin at 10:12 PM EST:
The rhetoric that George Bush uses on immigration is still so different from the Republican candidates for President. He talks about being humane. You never hear Romney or, talking about McCain, talking about humanity these days.
A flavor of the post-speech analysis on CBS, following Schieffer describing the address as “flat” and historian Douglas Brinkley calling it “boilerplate,” picking up at about 10:07 PM EST:
KATIE COURIC: I was going to say a lot of it was Bush redux too wasn't it? We heard many of these sentiments before -- whether it came to warning Iran to suspend its nuclear weapons program, or talking about the importance of FISA and basically monitoring terrorist communications in this country and renewing that act.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know what I thought was interesting, Katie, this was the State of the Union speech. The President traditionally gives the State of the Union. He did not mention the phrase there. He did not say what his assessment of the state of the union was until the next to the last sentence when he said if we do this and that, the nation will remain strong. I guess you can't start out a speach saying the State of the Union is good when you're, you know, in the kind of economic situation that we seem to be in now and while the war still goes on. It's been a long time since I have heard a President wait until the second-to-the-last sentence of a speech to say that it remains strong if we do certain things.
COURIC: Doug, so many historians and political observers are already calculating how President Bush will be remembered, where he will stand in the line of Presidents who have preceded him. It's really too early to say, isn't it? But as a historian, can you predict how he might be remembered?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well, it's not looking good for his legacy. I mean it's hard to point to any big accomplishments. I think as Bob said, all the chips were put on Iraq. Most of the country is opposed to what's gone on over there. And you know, you're going to get probably a Democratic response saying that, right now, today five soldiers were killed over there. And he has to keep hitting that note over and over again. His legacy will be determined just like James K. Polk, the Mexican American war was Mr. Polk's war and William McKinley's Spanish American war, was Mr. McKinley's war. This has been Mr. Bush's war and I think whether democracy blooms in Iraq will be what people judge him on.
SCHIEFFER: When the President is there it is too early. You simply can't make a judgement. We couldn't make a judgment, we're only beginning now to understand completely the impact of Ronald Reagan. When he left office, we didn't know that the Soviet Union was going to collapse. And he certainly deserves some of the credit for that. I think it just -- you got to wait a little while before you can make a judgement. But again, I go back to, he put all the chips on the line for Iraq. And I think for right now, how that comes out will determine what his legacy is.