We already have a picture of what the State of the Union is going to look like. But the importance of this speech cannot be missed, as this is Bush's final opportunity to set the tone for the remainder of his presidency. And with sagging poll numbers he needs to get support up for his initiatives, or the next three years will be much like the last one for Bush. If he doesn't get this one right, it's game over.
The first thing he must do is pat himself on the back with the Alito nomination. It was a hard fight, and the new Justice would be an excellent symbol of a new breath of energy for the Administration that has much work to do in a second term. And his path to the Court is also a symbol of just how low the Democrats are willing to go in order to oppose this Administration, which is another topic Bush will address.
On foreign policy, Bush must advance all of the positives of Iraq. And he must emphasize the fact that there are many. An Iraqi Army that is stepping up to be able to defend the nation on its own. Three successful elections in a year's time. And Iraqi politicians bickering over the finer points of government rule. A nation where people no longer live in fear of government, but still a place which terrorist forces are unwilling to surrender. He needs to underscore what has been done, troop drawdown, and the realistic outlook. Because the nation next door is knocking. And if Bush is to engage Iran, he needs the political backing of the American people. Failing that, the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs will be able to comfortably laugh off any American threats, knowing that Israel is effectively alone. This is without question the most critical portion of the speech, and he needs to restore and bolster, as the case may be, credibility in this regard.
With respect to energy, if Hurricane Katrina and our current gas prices didn't prove to us that our current energy infrastructure is needing much in the way of improvement, it is hard to say what, short of an unrecoverable hit would convince us. We need to explore domestic energy sources, and we need to technologically update and restructure our energy infrastructure. But decades of environmental legislation based upon unproven hypotheses has essentially tied the hands of research and development. Bush needs to make clear that we need a new paradigm: rather than restrictions that actually bind us to grandfathered technologies and which make innovation prohibitively expensive, we need a new system which permits expansion and modernization of our infrastructure, and which favors clean technologies. We remain in the 1970s insofar as our energy infrastructure is concerned, and leaving it that way is an invitation to disaster. Bush must push energy reform now more than ever, because I believe that this most recent hurricane season was a sobering vulnerability check in this regard.
And taxes. The tax reforms Bush enacted need to become permanent. Period. The Treasury receipts actually increased as the taxes went the other way. The only excuse for not doing it is Democrat class warfare, and more of the same demagoguery about gifts to the rich (ignoring the fact that the lower income folks don't really pay taxes).
And speaking of demagoguery Bush will address the tone in Washington. And just as Alito is a symbol of victory for Bush, the hearings are a symbol of the remarkably cruel divisiveness that pervades Washington. And the tone of the hearings, accusations of lying to America and killing soldiers, of being an idiot, accusing our soldiers of being like the Nazis, etc. are not the acts or the fault of the President. He has stated that he will take some responsibility for not elevating the tone, but if he does that, he must likewise attribute blame to the left. Because Americans need to know that some of the people they are electing are causing remarkable harm by screeching the unsupported talking points of the far left.
The game begins at 9:00. This should be interesting.