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Europe

European Press Review: President Gives Early Election Speech

European editorials weighed in on the State of the Union address by U.S. President George W Bush. Most criticized Bush for giving a re-election campaign speech rather than focusing on the situation in the country.

For London's The Financial Times the State of the Union speech was a clear re-election bid launch. It observed that the president quickly descended into an aggressively partisan tone prompting Democratic members of Congress to refuse to join in the traditional ovations. The paper also noted the speech was "curiously defensive" for a man selling himself as a victorious war leader.

Spain's El Periodico agreed. It said that while the war was officially justified on the basis of weapons of mass destruction, none were actually found. Bush's speech included the capture of Saddam Hussein but neglected to mention the hundreds of American soldiers who have died in Iraq, the paper pointed out.

With America already in election fever, the French paper Le Figaro criticized Bush’s address as nothing more than the speech of a presidential candidate. It noted the U.S. president managed to cover almost every topic under the sun in his 54 minute presentation.

At the same time, the Kurier in Vienna took a stab at the president for steering clear of foreign policy and concentrating solely on economic matters. History has shown, the paper said referring to Bush senior, that even if Bush junior returns from war victorious he may lose the election on economic issues just like his father did. However, the paper said, by playing up to the conservatives Bush could win a second term in office.

Moscow's paper the Nezavisimaya Gazeta likened George W Bush's speech to Stalin. According to the editorialist, Bush's use of the phrase "the cause we serve is right" resembled Stalin's speech at the start of his wars. Stalin also said his cause was right, the enemy will be destroyed and victory is secure, the paper recalled.

Italy's Il Messaggero commented on the reaction of the American electorate to Bush's speech. At least 60 percent of people polled believe the country cannot afford the projects Bush referred to in the State of the Union address. While Americans still have a positive opinion of Bush they don't believe in his economic plans, especially not given the current state of the economy.

"Bush spoke before a divided nation," wrote Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad. It noted that the majority of Americans still support his contentious Iraq policy even though more than 500 soldiers have died. But nationally the mood has changed. Bush has not emerged as the "compassionate president" he set out to be, but as a president for the wealthy. After three years of tax cuts for the rich, many American households believe that the government is not interested in their concerns, the paper concluded.