By DOUG THOMPSON
His bravado beaten down by his many failures, a tired President George W. Bush went before a weary nation Tuesday night in a last-ditch effort to convince a doubting America and a hostile Congress that his attempt at leadership has not been a dismal, complete and utter failure.
As speeches go, his State of the Union address was better than some of his previous efforts – devoid of the multiple verbal gaffes that have marred his Presidency.
But if motivation of a nation weary of war and skeptical of his policies, lies and missteps was Bush’s goal, he can mark this one up as just another failure in a Presidency of missions unaccomplished.
Tired he may have been, weary he may have appeared, but Bush remains defiant to the end on Iraq, insisting against all odds and the advice of his military experts that his latest act of desperation, the “troop surge” will yield results other than the loss of too many more American lives.
“Let us find our resolve and turn events toward victory,” he told a disbelieving Congress where the new Democratic majority and an increasing number of Republicans oppose his actions and his war.
In a war where victory is not possible and failure is inevitable, Bush remains steadfast in his willingness to wage it without justification and overlook the mounting American casualties without remorse.
Apparently, there wasn’t enough pancake makeup available to cover the deepening circles under the President’s eyes but all the makeup in the world could not cover the emptiness behind those eyes. They show a man devoid of emotion, a man without compassion and beyond reason. His failed Iraq war, like so many of his personal and Presidential shortcomings, define a legacy that historians will no doubt call one of the debacles of American history.
Bush is a modern day captain of the Titanic, going down with a doom ship that sank under the illusion of invincibility. Unlike Bush, that captain of that ship had the sense and decency to tell passengers to get off the sinking ship and did not ask them to go down with him.
No one expects a State of the Union speech to be a tome of fact. It is always a work of fiction, a fantasy delivered in defiance of reality. But Bush, as he always does, pushed that fantasy to new heights. He did not even mention Iraq – the defining failure of his Presidency – until 3200 words into the speech and when he finally got around to the number one issue in people’s minds he continued to cling to illusionary claims of progress and the imaginary belief of victory.
He invented progress in his so-called war on terror, claiming to have prevented attacks that no one else has been able to prove were even planned and, astonishingly, trumpeting a non-existent victory in Afghanistan where his decision to pull out troops and send them to Iraq allowed the Taliban to regroup and rebuild their stronghold.
Some pundits praised Bush’s speech Tuesday night as his best State of the Union address but “best” is a relative term when it comes to the President’s oratorical skills. Best can mean he didn’t trip over his tongue that many times.
True, he steered away from some of the rabid, right-wing causes of past speeches: No call for a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, no talk of abortion or other staunch Republican issues. And he talked of oil conservation and environmental issues he has avoided in the past six years.
But that was window dressing – fluff to draw attention away from the three benchmarks of his Presidency: Deception, disunion and denial.
He has deceived the American people, the Congress and the World community over and over again – lying outright to try and justify his failed war in Iraq. He has promoted disunion in this nation, dividing it by disregarding the Constitution he swore to uphold and stripping away many of the freedoms that Americans thought were protected by the laws he chooses to ignore. And he remains in a constant state of denial: Refusing to accept his many failures and avoiding responsibility for his actions.
On Tuesday, the President of the United States had one more chance to prove he can learn from his mountain of mistakes and move to correct the many actions that have defined his incalculable failures.
Once again, he failed. At this point, the only way George W. Bush could inspire this nation would be to resign from office – effective immediately.