It would have been foolish for anyone to expect the President to stand up at last nights State of the Union and call for universal health care or a new war on poverty, but there was a great deal the President chose not to say, or only pay lip service to, that he could have said. On energy independence, President Bush is uniquely positioned to call for sacrifice from the oil industry, auto industry, and American people alike. His background, much like that of LBJ in the push for civil rights, gives him credibility with these important players and provides him room to help our nation break free of what the he has now admitted is an “addiction to oil.” Instead of calling for stricter CAFE standards or a new “freedom tax” on gas/SUVs/anything that indirectly supports radical Islamic regimes, President Bush took the easy route, talking about technology and possibilities for the future. Offend no one, challenge no one, ask nothing of a great nation that is ready to give.
There are other examples of missed opportunities, but they’ll be documented throughout the mainstream media and in the blogosphere (left and right alike). President Bush was right when he said one thing, “the state of the union is strong.” However, our union is strong, not because of its leadership, not because of the policies of this administration, and not because of our fiscal or moral standing in the world. The state of our union is strong because the spirit, will, and determination of the American people is absolutely unassailable and resolute. The strength of America rests not in its institutions, traditions, or position in the world. Rather, our strength is derived from the hardworking people in the Gulf Coast who are trying to rebuild their communities. The strength of our union comes from the Mom and Dad who are taking the overtime shifts to make sure their kid can afford to go to college. The strength of our union is drawn from the family farmers, small business owners, and teachers, who get up each day, go to work, and try and provide for their families and maybe, if they get the chance, make the world a better place.
The strength of our union has never been in question. But that strength has not been tapped by our current leadership, for one simple, obvious reason: they never asked.