Bush and Obama: two men and their SOTU word choices

K.E. Campbell
An examination of the words used by George W. Bush in his last three State of the Union (SOTU) addresses compared to the ones used by President Obama in his two SOTU addresses plus his address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009 (essentially a SOTU address) is revealing, though the results are not exactly surprising. The table below compares the number of times certain words were used by each president in three comparable speeches.


 
G. W. Bush

B. Obama

Diff

Word count, total

16,555

20,263

(3,708)

Terror/terrorists/terrorism

65

8

57

Enemy/enemies

34

1

33

Freedom

30

3

27

Military/troops/armed forces

34

15

19

Citizen(s)

30

12

18

Liberty

14

0

14

Extremist(s)

14

1

13

Free [market, people, society, elections, etc.]

14

3

11

Security

30

19

11

Life

25

14

11

Courage

18

7

11

Soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines

13

2

11

Honor

12

2

10

Duty

10

1

9

Opportunity

14

6

8

Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines

9

1

8

Democracy

11

4

7

Society

8

1

7

Justice

9

2

7

Faith

10

5

5

Victory

7

2

5

Trade

11

7

4

Constitution/constitutional

7

3

4

Individuals

4

0

4

Tyranny

3

0

3

Totalitarian

3

0

3

Principle(s)

4

2

2

Rule of law

3

1

2

Self-govern(ment)

2

0

2

Founders/founding/founded

3

2

1

Independence

2

1

1

Personal responsibility

1

0

1

Patriot/patriotism

1

0

1

Happiness

1

0

1

God/Creator

6

6

0

Spirit

8

8

0

Sacrifice

5

5

0

Rights

4

6

(2)

Prosperity/prosper/prosperous

9

13

(4)

Tax(es)

36

53

(17)

Family/families

13

39

(26)



Regarding President Obama's SOTU address a few days ago, some of the combinations of words sounded a little too familiar to Alvin Felzenberg, who has worked for two administrations. In a piece he penned for U.S. News, Felzenberg wrote that the SOTU address "contained enough recycled ideas and lines lifted from speeches of others to make historians wince." Jack Cashill today points out for AT readers that this is a longstanding pattern of Obama's.


To me, one word in particular really stands out in the table above, one that appears in the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance. The word is liberty. The score: 14-0. A sad shutout.

An examination of the words used by George W. Bush in his last three State of the Union (SOTU) addresses compared to the ones used by President Obama in his two SOTU addresses plus his address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009 (essentially a SOTU address) is revealing, though the results are not exactly surprising. The table below compares the number of times certain words were used by each president in three comparable speeches.


 
G. W. Bush

B. Obama

Diff

Word count, total

16,555

20,263

(3,708)

Terror/terrorists/terrorism

65

8

57

Enemy/enemies

34

1

33

Freedom

30

3

27

Military/troops/armed forces

34

15

19

Citizen(s)

30

12

18

Liberty

14

0

14

Extremist(s)

14

1

13

Free [market, people, society, elections, etc.]

14

3

11

Security

30

19

11

Life

25

14

11

Courage

18

7

11

Soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines

13

2

11

Honor

12

2

10

Duty

10

1

9

Opportunity

14

6

8

Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines

9

1

8

Democracy

11

4

7

Society

8

1

7

Justice

9

2

7

Faith

10

5

5

Victory

7

2

5

Trade

11

7

4

Constitution/constitutional

7

3

4

Individuals

4

0

4

Tyranny

3

0

3

Totalitarian

3

0

3

Principle(s)

4

2

2

Rule of law

3

1

2

Self-govern(ment)

2

0

2

Founders/founding/founded

3

2

1

Independence

2

1

1

Personal responsibility

1

0

1

Patriot/patriotism

1

0

1

Happiness

1

0

1

God/Creator

6

6

0

Spirit

8

8

0

Sacrifice

5

5

0

Rights

4

6

(2)

Prosperity/prosper/prosperous

9

13

(4)

Tax(es)

36

53

(17)

Family/families

13

39

(26)



Regarding President Obama's SOTU address a few days ago, some of the combinations of words sounded a little too familiar to Alvin Felzenberg, who has worked for two administrations. In a piece he penned for U.S. News, Felzenberg wrote that the SOTU address "contained enough recycled ideas and lines lifted from speeches of others to make historians wince." Jack Cashill today points out for AT readers that this is a longstanding pattern of Obama's.


To me, one word in particular really stands out in the table above, one that appears in the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance. The word is liberty. The score: 14-0. A sad shutout.