Intermediate Form

The State of the Union, By the Numbers

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Well, everyone's blogging about the State of the Union, so I thought I would. Since I don't have any biting analysis to do, I thought I would simply run the numbers on the State of the Union to see what Bush spent his time talking about.

I was inspired to do this by Beth's post of 2003-01-29. (Unfortunately, she doesn't have permalinks.) In her synopsis of the speech, about 2/3rds of the points are "war". I wanted to see how that perception meshed with the actual speech.

Methodology: I downloaded the State of the Union from whitehouse.gov. I copied and pasted it into xemacs, and wrapped it into 80 character lines. I then classified each paragraph into a topic, and used a program to count how many lines were under each topic. This is only an approximation, but it gives a first glance as to how much the President had to say about each topic.

Here's the data:

PercentLinesTopic
3%18INTRO
3%14ACCOMPLISHMENTS
4%20ENDING
10%Administrivia
8%40ECONOMY/TAXES
2%10ENERGY
3%18HYDROGEN POWERED CARS
9%49FAITH BASED INITIATIVES/CITIZEN SERVICE
6%32HEALTH CARE
1%5SOCIAL SECURITY
1%6SPENDING
30%Domestic Issues
2%10AFGHANISTAN
6%29AIDS INITIATIVE
2%11FOREIGN POLICY (GENERIC)
7%36OUTLAW REGIMES INTRO
1%7IRAN
3%15KOREA
27%144IRAQ
48%Foreign Policy
11%60TERRORISM/HOMELAND SECURITY

As usual, numbers do not total 100% due to rounding. You can see my classification here.

Conclusions? Well, the President didn't spend all of his time talking about war. If you count both Iraq and Terrorism as war, then he only spent 38%. I don't think the majority of the Terrorism section was really all that warlike, however... It consisted mostly of listing goals in that area, like more funds for Bioterrorism research (given the horrible name Project Bioshield).

While the section on Iraq was both the largest section of the 2003 State of the Union and the section with the most memorable rhetoric, the speech covered a range of other topics. I don't think it's accurate to imply that the speech was dominated by talk of war.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-01-29 20:52

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