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Tipsheet: IU professors available to discuss State of the Union address

Jan. 23, 2007

EDITORS: The following professors from Indiana University Bloomington are available to discuss tonight's (Jan. 23) State of the Union address. Their contact information is listed below along with their perspectives on the president's annual message to Congress and what viewers might look and listen for.

Erik Bucy is an associate professor in the Department of Telecommunications and adjunct associate professor in the School of Informatics at Indiana University Bloomington. Bucy, who was deputy press secretary and national scheduler for Jerry Brown's 1992 campaign for president, studies political communication, psychological responses to emotion-laden images in the news, media access and news credibility. His work examines how the communicative behavior of public figures has become increasingly central to evaluations of political effectiveness, and he is currently engaged in a longitudinal analysis of the visual content of presidential election news coverage by the major broadcast networks from 1992 to 2004. He can be reached at 812-856-5207 or

He said, "With Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Bush faces an opposition Congress for the first time in his presidency. With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about to take up a resolution opposing the president's plan to add troops in Iraq, Bush faces a considerable challenge in winning key Democrats to his position at a time when opposing his Iraq policy has become good politics. Beyond foreign policy issues, the president faces a situation much like Bill Clinton faced with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 -- an activist legislative chamber with party leadership that is clearly organized and eager to push a Democratic agenda. In this environment, and with his public approval ratings near historical lows, it will be difficult for the president to push for any of his own domestic priorities in the coming year. Given the political realities of this year's State of the Union address, it will be interesting to observe whether the president continues to strike a conciliatory tone, as he attempted in his Iraq address a few weeks ago. Unlike previous years, the president will not be flanked by a Republican speaker as he delivers his speech -- and the constant standing ovations to which he has become accustomed at such occasions will be noticeably less frequent. The president's body language tends to reveal his discomfort when making public appearances in unfavorable circumstances, so the challenges facing the president derive from political realities and the exigencies of the rhetorical moment."

Russell Hanson is a professor of political science at Indiana University Bloomington whose primary interests lie in the area of political philosophy and American politics. He teaches courses on state and local politics in the United States, American political thought and modern political thought. He is the author of The Democratic Imagination in America (1985), and the co-editor of Political Innovation and Conceptual Change (1989), Reconsidering the Democratic Public (1993), and Politics in the American States (2003). He can be reached at 812-855-6001 or

He said, "First, and foremost, President Bush will defend his new 'way forward' in Iraq, but he must provide cover to his supporters in Congress by emphasizing the need for cooperation from the Iraqi government. I don't expect President Bush to set benchmarks or lay out timetables, but he will promise listeners that he intends to press hard for a crackdown on militias and insurgents. He also will insist that the Iraqi government is capable of gaining the upper hand. With these assurances, the president's supporters in Congress may unite in opposition to efforts to curtail American military involvement in Iraq, and given the close division, they may succeed. On the other hand, if the president isn't convincing on this point, there will be more Republican defections, and the president's precarious political position will become untenable."