For his seventh and second to last time, George W. Bush will be speaking about the state of our Union. I’ll not waste my time or yours writing about the civil war in Iraq. Suffice it to say that I agree with roughly 70 percent of the population. In his address last year, we were told to remain “steadfast in our resolve,” whatever that means. This year, I expect to hear more about the “new way forward,” whatever that means. There is, however, more to the state of our Union than the goings on in Iraq.
I expect that we’ll hear more on these other issues, if for no other reason than to divert attention away from Iraq. I know that this characterization might sound somewhat “unfair,” even cynical. Am I accusing our president of raising important domestic issues only to divert attention away from a critical foreign policy failure? It does sound that way, but I’m not even talking about what specifically needs to be addressed in our nation vis-à-vis health care, Social Security, education… the list goes on. I’m talking about attitude.
The nation is in an emotional tizzy. It’s difficult to know where to put our allegiance - pledging it to the flag is not a one-dimensional declaration. Can we support our troops without agreeing with the president? It depends on whom we ask. Can we say we’re in support of reducing green house emissions while we continue to consume fossil fuels at an alarming rate? Talk is cheap. What about health care, poverty and - with Katrina serving as a backdrop - racism?
These are all polarizing-turned-paralyzing issues. Our leaders, ostensibly led by the president, keep talking and people keep dying. Where do we stand? The State of the Union Address could be used to unite what is becoming an increasingly divided country. I don’t believe, however, that Bush has the wherewithal to sufficiently move anyone anymore. In a weird sort of way, he is creating the unity he has so effectively destroyed in his six years at the helm. Granted, it’s unity in opposition, but it’s unity - national unity - all the same.
With no less than 18 candidates vying for the presidency in 2008, it would appear that this president’s dismal performance has spawned a new activism. His ineptitude has woken many of us up. I dare say that we’re paying attention now - and it’s certainly not too late. The mid-term elections have tempered his arrogance, but his field of view is as narrow as ever. In the final analysis, the opposition has not jumped ship; rather, Bush is backing up to the plank. His legacy? Splash!