Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Voters' views: Shankar Iyer

Shankar Iyer
Name: Shankar Iyer
Age: 55
Lives: Fairfax, Virginia
Works: Business professor
Last election voted: Democrat
In 10 words or less: "University professor, humanitarian, Democrat"

Last year, the president viewed his re-election as giving him political capital and confidently boasted about using it to fix established social programmes such as social security and Medicare.

He also vowed to continue with his policies favouring the well-heeled and to establish democracy in Iraq.

A year later, with the blood of thousands of dead US troops and Iraqi citizens staining his presidency, along with corruption and scandal in his administration and legislature and the revelations of extra-constitutional civilian and military activities in fighting terrorism, the president began in a more conciliatory tone.

However, as the dutifully partisan applause came aplenty, his rhetoric became more and more partisan in approach.

The president seemed comfortable, as always, shaping and distorting the facts.

He lumped the elected government of Iran in with the dictatorships of Burma, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe, while assuming the mantle to "deliver the oppressed and move the world toward peace".

Yes, he has learned from the experience of Iraq, adjusted military tactics and changed approach to reconstruction - but he still chastised his critics.

In the president's view, the ever-so-modest loosening of the dictatorial reins in Egypt and Saudi Arabia called for celebration.

The electoral victory of Hamas in Palestine did not. Iran became a country "held hostage by a small clerical elite".

The president did pay attention to the compassionate side of America - calling for increased humanitarian assistance to fight the global scourges of HIV/Aids, malaria, poverty, genocide, child labour and human trafficking.

On the domestic front, he called for American competitiveness in the global work force and an energy research initiative to eliminate dependence on Middle East oil.

He continued with his push to reform social security and to make his tax cuts for the well-to-do permanent.

His reference to Hurricane Katrina offered a more positive picture of ongoing relief efforts than have been reported.

In sum, the president's State of the Union continued "the world according to me" view held by this administration, where rhetoric replaces realities and terror is used to justify compromises of core democratic values.

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