Viewers react to the State of the Union address
(CNN) -- CNN.com asked its users what struck them most about President Bush's State of the Union address.
Here is a sampling from thousands of responses, some of which have been edited.
Lin Avalon from Valparaiso, Indiana:
The president made me feel good about being an American, particularly when he expressed the ideal that tyranny can be eliminated and all peoples of the globe ultimately can be free. When Mrs. Norwood up in the balcony hugged the Iraqi lady in front of her, I cried like a baby. If America's ideal is to help other people in other nations to be free of tyrants, fear and poverty, then count me on board philosophically. Thanks.
Michael from Salt Lake City, Utah:
The ink-stained fingers were an insult to the courageous Iraqi men and women who voted last week. It was the basest of political gimmicks.
John Webb from West Palm Beach, Florida:
Same old Bush spin but this time on Social Security. Under the Bush plan, the "giant sucking sound" will be middle class wallets being emptied in order to subsidize Wall Street tycoons.
Susan Barnum from Vineland, New Jersey:
One thing you can say for George W., he has the faith of his convictions! There was not one thing that I disagreed with!
Tamara Baker from St. Paul, Minnesota:
He lied repeatedly, as he always does. He lied about Iraq, he lied about Social Security, he lied about everything. Let's just look at the Social Security lies. He claimed that under his privatization plan, Social Security benefits would go up. That's a lie -- the Congressional Budget Office says Bush's privatization plan will cut benefits by 45 percent or more for seniors. The Bush plan will reduce benefits for all seniors, even those who choose not to invest in privatized accounts. Furthermore, the CBO states that benefits for people born in the 1980s would be 30 percent lower and benefits for those born in the 2000s would be 45 percent lower!
Glen Bremer from Cookeville, Tennessee:
A very strong vision and plans for the future. If he can get support for his programs, he could go down in history as one of the greats.
Eric Williams from Blue Springs, Missouri:
I was really disappointed in the message the president sent tonight. He's asking for huge sums of money for financing the war in Iraq, and in return he's proposing that we risk our most valuable safety net (Social Security) by privatizing portions of it. I think it's a disgrace. He's not willing to work in a centrist manner -- he's leaning back to the far right as witnessed by his insistence upon bringing up the constitutional amendment on marriage. His stubbornness will eventually bring him down.
Evan from Acworth, Georgia:
I believe that the president did an excellent job in stating what needs to be done in our nation. I am behind him and respect him as a person 100 percent. I was, at first, skeptical about the Social Security plan, but after reading up on it, it seems that it is a good idea for future generations although no one in our generation will benefit. I also feel that the "up or down" vote policy is the most important thing the president could accomplish in his term and would be praised for.
Sharon from San Antonio, Texas:
Positive and encouraging, addressing domestic needs of health care, Social Security, IRS and tort reform. Reinforced commitment to constitutional amendment defining marriage and re-emphasized the force that freedom is and the responsibility that America has to uphold and advance it throughout the world. The embrace between the soldier's mom from Pflugerville and the Iraqi woman was priceless! God Bless America!
Mary Uloth from Saginaw, Michigan:
I think "King" George needs to apply himself to some townhall meetings and realize he is a servant of the people of this nation as well as a representative. I think he needs to quit saying he is laying out plans for 30 years into the future as it doesn't do anything but show he is looking for one of his daughters to be in office to "keep it in the family." I think he needs to understand that he is accountable to the American people, and not the other way around. I think he disrespects the citizens of the United States as stupid people because he can stand there and spew that garbage as if we dot have a clue! I am appalled! It wouldn't hurt for him to have a reality check, big time.
Kelly Stern from Richmond, Virginia:
I still find it hard to believe President Bush is going to keep supporting the gay marriage amendment. If this is the case, I would like to push for outlawing marriage for anyone who has premarital sex, I mean if same-sex marriage is not traditional, how is a marriage where sex is prevalent beforehand traditional? Come on, let two people who love each other get married. It is up to the church to perform the marriage, not the U.S. Government. We all believe in our God and a lot of us think he loves us no matter who we love.
William S. Hamilton from Woodburn, Oregon:
I thought this was a positive, specific speech with minimal political spin. He stated his goals for the next three years in a firm and confident voice. He opened the door for the Democrats to rise above partisan politics and join in the effort to solve the problems with Social Security and to fight terrorism around the world. It was, in my opinion, his best speech and his most confident appearance to date. It's hard to second guess President Bush now because he has backed up his words with deeds. Those who constantly disagree with him and continue to deny his success will be considered by many as being nonproductive and totally biased. That won't win votes for them down the road.
J. Michael Robertson from Oakland, California:
The coherence of his comments on why his plan for privatizing Social Security was unsettling. It's one thing to make a bad argument; it's quite another thing to make no argument at all.
Kathy Walker from St. Petersburg, Florida:
I thought he did a magnificent job! I am a registered Democrat, but am very glad I voted for him.
Sandi Hendricks from Sioux Falls, South Dakota:
I don't feel he is sincere. I think he is just saying what he "thinks" the American public wants to hear. All these polls on the Internet ask what we think of him and his programs and the State of the Union. All the ones I have seen say the state is poor, he is doing a poor job. What I can't understand is, if the public feels this way, then who voted for him? I did not.
Crystal Scalf from Salesville, Arkansas:
President Bush is leading this country in the right direction and he proved it tonight with his speech. He never backs down from what he believes is right for this country no matter what negative attacks the whiney Dems throw at him! The Dems will only lose more seats in Congress in the mid-term elections if they continue to fight Bush every step of the way.
Glenn Williams from Boston, Massachusetts:
George W. Bush is again manufacturing a crisis in Social Security to justify destroying the social safety net, just as he manufactured a crisis in Iraq to justify his immoral war. He speaks of freedom from tyranny as he works to terrorize gay Americans. He speaks of valuing life as he destroys Iraqi lives and the lives of our men and women in the armed forces. He has sworn an oath to uphold our Constitution, but works to destroy and circumvent the checks and balances set in place by that very Constitution. He invokes the name of God, but does not live by any of the tenants proscribed by the Christ he professes to admire. There is indeed a moral crisis in America. And the election of this lying, despicable hypocrite proves it beyond a doubt.
Don Dodson from Fort Worth, Texas:
Inspiring or insulting? It was neither. It was just right. The president is right that we have a great opportunity to spread freedom and oppose tyranny. He is right about fixing Social Security. He is right about tax cuts.
Joanne from Albany, New York:
There are really two things that bothered me about the speech. The first was, when talking abut the Social Security issue, he sounded as if we should feel guilty that people in this generation are living longer! Secondly, I cannot believe that this man still wants to amend the Constitution to ban homosexual marriage. Perhaps if he allowed homosexual marriage, the Social Security problem would be solved because there would be less procreation of children in this country.
Karen Herndon from Duncan, Oklahoma:
I felt so proud to be an American as I listened to our president's speech. Especially moving to me was the recognition of the fallen soldier's parents. The connection between the young Iraqi woman and the soldier's mother was very significant to me and spoke a gamet of emotions in a universal language. I feel so strongly that all of our armed forces members and their families deserve our utmost admiration, respect, and recognition. My dad was a POW in WWII and eventually (many years later, thankfully) died of causes incurred during his internment. Again, to me,the speech invoked great feelings of pride in our nation and its people.
Don from Monroe, Louisiana:
Once again, our president strives to isolate minority groups in this country. The proposed marriage amendment prevents lesbian and gay couples to marry should they decide to do so. Sounds like our dark history -- women being refused the right to vote or the many civil liberties denied to blacks. President Bush supports the amendment in his speech, then a few paragraphs later states, "Because one of the deepest values of our country is compassion, we must never turn away from any citizen who feels isolated from the opportunities of America." He doesn't want to isolate any citizen but then endorses the marriage amendment which does just that -- isolates lesbians and gays. This proposed amendment just shows the president's hatred towards certain minority groups and his support for religious-based organizations as indicated in his Faith-based initiatives. What happened to "separation of church and state"?
James from Webster Springs, West Virginia:
It's funny how both parties want to fix Social Security but no one has. At least this president actually has a plan after he's been elected. It's amazing how many politicians plans vanish after they get the job.
Lu Johns from Coolin, Idaho:
President Bush made an outstanding speech outlining the needs for privatizing Social Security, providing for the national defense and spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world. Perhaps the best speech I ever heard!
Barb Wilson from Cass City, Michigan:
His speech sounded great. I just wonder where he thinks he is going to get the money to do all he says he is going to do without taxing the people so much that everyone in the U.S. is completely broke -- all except those as rich as he is. I think he wants to be a dictator, and too bad about the little guy! I am really concerned that he is going to ruin our country if someone doesn't put a stop to all his great and grand ideas. If the government had left Social Security alone and not stolen from it, there would be plenty of money to carry on as we have in the past, which has worked beautifully. Thank you for the opportunity to have my say.
Carmen from Union, New Jersey:
Once again, sheds optimism, consistent determination and "firm resolve!" Got to give him the proper credit and, though a very ambitious agenda for the next four years, he delivered head-on what Americans asked for: Social Security, homeland security, education, health care, etc. Outlining his specific plans, yet, as always, Democrats criticized and rebuffed! Bush thanked all those serving in the U.S. military and frequently stated that their sacrifice would be honored, supporting all servicemen and their families. The Democrats still pound on the same note, with its liberal mentality, often compelling them to focus on the reality of our current domestic and international affairs! They don't want immigrants to come here to make a better living, yet who will cook, serve and clean for them? Do the hard and dirty manual labor? How about those Americans here that do not wish to work, study or take full advantage of all that this great nation has to offer? Who don't appreciate their civil liberties and abuse their freedom? Is this not the "melting pot" that we learned from our history books? As for the president amending the Constitution to safeguard marriage: he has to, or else the gay marriage situation will get out of hand! With the excuse of our First Amendment, people have crossed the line and abused its true purpose -- how and pathetic! The land of so much freedom has produced the highest crime rate, deterioration of social and moral values, and, in short, too many people who really take so much for granted, who prefer to complain instead of take action. Let's focus on the present and the future, supporting the president as Americans, and taking some bold steps to improve, correct and better life not only for us, but for our kids.
Jessica from Streator, Illinois:
Two parts of his speech immediately struck me. First was the extreme scare tactic regarding Social Security. His word choice and year dates of system failure were meant to be simple enough for the entire population. If one listened long enough, they realized that his scare tactic (similar to the initial war speech) was meant to make Americans think his way of reform is the only way: the only thing we can do. My second issue is with his use of "culture of life" in the paragraph of essentially saying gays are a culture that our country will barely tolerate. His term "activist" judges struck me, because it seems his rebuttal judge would share only the Bush side. Excellent sounding speech, but very scary in terms of real life and what he is trying to force the Congress to do.
Marilou Reason from Logansport, Indiana:
I enjoyed Bush's speech. No theatrics like Kerry and G.W. speaks from his heart in a way we Midwesterners understand. None of that Eastern highfalutin/fake pretenses. Kerry and Kennedy like to act like silk purses but they are actually sow's ears!
George Coulson from Tempe, Arizona:
Every paragraph went like this: "I sound like a Democrat. I sound like a Democrat. I sound like a Democrat. Oh, and I have my hand in your back pocket." Also, there wasn't much state of the union in the State of the Union. All in all, it probably would have been a pretty dangerous speech if any Americans actually watched the State of the Union tripe. Blah, blah, blah.
Neil B. from San Antonio, Texas:
Bush delivered a commanding performance. The Democrats showed absolutely no class by their boos and utter disrespect of the office of president. Whether they occupy the office or not, they seem to want to do everything they can to denigrate the position of president. I thought the president turned the tables on them by citing their own members who have stated the need for Social Security reform which show who the real partisan dividers are in the U.S. government.
Matt from Duncan, Arizona:
Isn't it ironic that he has our troops fighting for freedom/democracy in Iraq while at home he is trying to make sure freedoms are taken away from gay/lesbian Americans?
Rob Geiger from Granville, Ohio:
Like sitting through a high school pep rally, except the principal spoke the whole time, and there weren't any pretty girls with pom-poms.
Kay Walsh from Sacramento, California:
President Bush is not afraid to tackle big issues like Social Security and tax reform. I admire his guts and vision. He is a man of strong beliefs and means what he says. He may be one of our bravest presidents and I believe history will honor him for freeing so many millions from tyranny in the Middle East.
Hans Tanzler from Jacksonville, Florida:
I thought the address was inspiring and optimistic. It is now time for much needed changes in our government.
B. Krupchak from Oakland, Mississippi:
Why didn't he mention the outsourcing of good paying jobs? He also neglected to mention the National Guard serving in Iraq. Why can we lay new water pipes in Iraq and continue to drink dirty water in rural Mississippi?
Houchens from Kihei, Hawaii:
Bush is right on. The Democrats need to get a life and get over their loss. They are acting like petulant children!
Mike Scott from Richardson, Texas:
President Bush is sending a clear message to all Americans that hate and discrimination is "appropriate in some instances" by supporting a constitutional amendment that discriminates against homosexuals. He is by far a divider and I look forward to him leaving office, hopefully sooner than expected!
Amanda, a soldier from Arizona deployed to Iraq:
I would like to thank the President for reaffirming that our efforts over here are for a greater purpose that will be realized in our -- and the Iraqis' -- future. On those lonely, long nights, so far from home, it is important to know our Commander and Chief is firm about staying until the job is done. To do anything less would be a dishonor for those men and women who gave their all.
Ann from Sikeston, Missouri:
I think he is misleading the people about everything. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, you should be able to see a flashing red light. If Social Security is as bad as he says it is, and he wants to take it away from us, and then let Mexicans come over here work six months then go home and draw part of their Social Security from us, then how are we going to pay for their Social Security if it is as bad as he says it is? Need I say more?
Chris from Sherwood, Oregon:
I started working and paying into Social Security at the age of 16 and am now 45. If I am now in charge of my own retirement, may I please have a check for the money I have paid into the fund for close to 30 years? With my husband's check, we should be set for many years to come.
Joe M. Turner from Atlanta, Georgia:
President Bush continues to lead our nation with vision, honor and strength. The moment when the Iraqi woman hugged the mother of a fallen Marine was stunning. I can only imagine the gratitude that the Iraqi woman must feel for the sacrifices made that have given her the right to vote ... a right which our president has made possible despite backbiting and obstruction from Democrats. It was a stunning tribute to the ultimate rightness of President Bush's principles and actions.
James Massey from Albany, Ohio:
This man does not seem to have any clue that there are millions of U.S. citizens that not only do not agree with his approach, but also have very different ideas of how to handle these problems. Is this the way to pull a country together? This country deserves a leader that has some sense of who they represent -- & this man Bush is not that leader. Maybe Castro is right -- Maybe Bush is demented!
Chalice Wilkerson from Chicago, Illinois:
First, his insistence on this Social Security disaster that can only be met by ensuring that your money grows faster in private accounts: why not just raise the amount of benefits and avoid the costs and battle? Secondly, the way he has conflated an election to choose representatives to write a constitution with democracy, and then, if anyone disagrees in Iraq, they now have the status of terrorists.
Kailyn Pickett from Richmond, Virginia:
I have to say that the most outstanding parts of President Bush's State of the Union address, in my mind, is the Social Security problems. I am a young women of exactly the age he spoke about: 20. I know that down the line I am going to have a family and responsibility for them. I am glad to have a president in the White House that is working towards a better plan and I support the new plan for individual retirement funds. I feel like this is not only giving the government responsibility for my future and my future family, but also leaving it in my hands to work and make the money to go into those retirement accounts.
Wendy Day from Howell, Michigan:
With a husband fighting in Baghdad, I found the President's speech to be inspiring. When are the Dems going to admit they were wrong and Bush was right?
Tracey J. from Asheville, North Carolina:
I'm confused about the proposed personal retirement accounts. Don't we already have these, available to anyone? They're called 401Ks or IRAs, and they do all that the PRA would, now, with as much or as little conservatism as person could want. Why would anyone want Social Security to duplicate something that already works?
Dan G. from Miami, Florida:
The president gave a truly inspiring speech. Americans will never forget the powerful symbolism of the Iraqi voter and the mother of the fallen soldier embracing, reminding us that the soldiers' cause is a worthy one.
Susan Brown-Sandberg from Mandeville, Louisiana:
It is an embarrassment to have the United States led by someone of George Bush's intellect and viewpoint. He spreads fear because of his lack of commitment to the core values of the working people of this country. He either lies or has very poor advisors. The reality I see is not his reality.
Mary Harshbarger from Boley, Oklahoma:
He left out the part about how much is currently in the Social Security Trust Fund. He also left out the expense involved in changing over, and the gross addition to the national debt it would create. As usual, he was quite misleading. I guess he thinks all he has to do is use his "U.S. Treasury Credit Care" to pay for anything he wants to do. This is another example of his wanting to put tax money into the hands of his wealthy friends and supporters (as the did with the drug legislation for seniors that gave the drug lords a windfall of tax money). Has anyone checked out raising the cap on Social Security taxes, currently at $90,000 per year?
Roy from Tallahassee, Florida:
Overall decent speech. I agree with most of the Republicans' attitudes in the face of adversity. I say we constitute a new amendment preventing family members from consecutive terms in the same political position, especially the presidency. In order to prevent a dynasty of absolute monarchy, masked by a patriotic flag.