The surprise came after the speech, during the Democratic response.
The opposing party is always given air time to refute the SOTU Address, but it's usually a senior member of the party. This time, the Dem's chose a newbie- Senator Jim Webb of Virginia. The mere fact that Webb was chosen has set the tone of the next two years for me- Webb is the Senator who had a little "exchange" with the President a few months ago. At a White House dinner, President Bush approached Webb and asked him "How's your boy?", inquiring about the well-being of Webb's son who is currently serving in Iraq. Webb's reply was a curt "I'd like to get him out of Iraq, Mr. President". Undetered, Bush said "That's not what I asked. How's your boy?" At which point Webb got nasty and said "That's between me and my boy, Mr. President."
My reaction? WHAT A DICK. President Bush has repeatedly shown his concern and appreciation for those serving in our military, and genuinely cares about their well-being. Asking "How's your boy?" was a non-invasive, non-threatening, geniune question, which was met with aggression and rudeness.
So much for diplomacy and working together, eh? The Dem's have made their stance clear: Anything Bush says, does, or implies will be promptly refused. Webb refused to recite the prepared speech from the Democratic party, instead delivering a speech he wrote himself. I wonder how much it differs from the prepared speech. It's no wonder, however, why Webb was chosen to deliver the rebuttal: He's firmly against the President, for our military, and not afraid to speak up. It's also clear to me now that the Dem's are going to do everything in their power to piss off the Republicans and play devil's advocate to everything the President suggests.
It's gonna be a LOOOOOOOONG two years.