In the 12 days between his second inaugural speech, replete with religious references, and his State of the Union address, delivered in more secular tones, President George W. Bush enjoyed what appeared to be a moment of success in his administration’s effort to spread democracy in the Middle East.
The Iraqi national elections January 30 had a larger-than-expected turnout, despite some violence from Iraqi insurgents. During Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress February 2, onlookers cheered the prolonged embrace between an Iraqi voter and the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in combat.
The moment was a historical rarity. Not since President William McKinley in 1901 has a Republican president started a second term with a majority of the popular vote and strong GOP majorities in the Senate and House. Republican neoconservatives and Religious Right activists hope to reach their respective long-term goals.