The State of Our Union

seal-presidential-color.jpgLast night, President Bush gave his last State of the Union speech. The pundits and politicians are abuzz with how it did or didn’t meet what is expected of such a speech in an election year, where much of the public’s attention is turned to candidate promises, and not as much on congressional action.

In short, this whole year will be a basic waste of time for our government.

So what is the real state of our union? Frenetic.

We are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We have a serious economic situation, but rather than having a ‘come to jesus’ moment and accepting the losses and bursting of our housing bubble, many just think the government should just fix it.

You don’t fix a leaking bubble by just pumping more air into it. You have to fix the leak.

The most convincing part of the speech for me was somehting he has had a lot of practice with: explaining and reinforcing his unpopular foreign policy stance. He convincingly stated our world role in defeating radical Jihadists and promoting moderate governments in middle eastern and Islamic countries. His rhetoric about the current state of the middle east, with the wind of the successful Iraq surge in his sails, was actually optimistic and forward looking. In a way it was a challenge for the next President, “Don’t screw up the gains we’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

But despite our recent success in this area, the frenetics in our country still won’t shut up. “Pull out!” “Pull out!” they scream from their easy chairs, when they have no idea what that even means. America, get used to the idea of us having a large presence in the middle east for a much longer time. Even if we take our military off the streets and take our posture from an offensive one to a defensive one, we will still have thousands of troops in Iraq for many years to come. Get used to that idea.

Strangely, I observed much less partisanship on the basic issues than there has been in the past. I think most everyone agrees we have to do something about the cost of health care, the future bankrupting of social security, illegal immigration, and even global co2 emmissions. Everyone seems to agree that these things need solutions, but the actual solutions are what we can’t seem to agree on.

Part of this is, again, due to frenetics in our politics. People are more concerned with being right than doing right. Some of these problems are so complex and their ramifications are so deep that there is no clear ‘best’ solution, but there are certainly good and better ideas that could be tried.

Making no decision is oftentimes worse than making a less than perfect decision.

With so much focus on the election and primaries, I almost forgot President Bush was there. But last night was a good opportunity to reflect on what he’s done in the last 7 years. While I don’t agree with every policy of his administration, and some of the tactics and secrecy, I still admire him for his strength of character. It is extremely lonely at the top, and he has handled himself gracefully, on principles, despite his abysmal approval rating. You always know what you’re getting with President Bush.

I only hope that our next President is someone with similar principles and integrity. Because mostly, I just want to know exactly what I’m getting into for the next 4-8 years.

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