What the President Should Say Tonight (And How His Opponents Should React)
President Bush does not often address the nation in primetime. So, when he does, there’s reason to listen. But, when he speaks tonight,will he say anything worth hearing? I hope so. And here’s what I hope he touches upon.
• The President will reemphasize that the War in Iraq must be won. Whether or not you support the decision to invade, we all must support the decision to stay and help Iraq climb out of chaos and into stability. What moral justification is there in abandoning a people at their time of need?
• The President will admit his administration made mistakes in Iraq. Advice was not always right, intelligence was clearly wrong. Progress has been slower than hoped.
• The President will reassure us that his administration is doing everything possible to correct our mistakes. Then he will tell us broadly what’s being done and what objectives we need to pass before the troops can come home.
• The President will remind us of the progress that has been made.
• The President will acknowledge the sacrifices our troops have made and how painful it is to him and the nation. But how proud he is to live in a nation where men and women are willing to die not just for their freedom, but for the freedom of other peoples.
• The President will remind us that this is everyone’s war. We are all at war. He understands people are upset with the decisions made but hopes they can lay aside their animosity and help us win this war.
• The President will ask us all to sacrifice something. Whether we send care packages to the troops or conserve gas or enlist in the military or join other national service organizations.
• The President will tell us hard times are yet ahead and more will die before the end. But the ends we seek are just and are a goal he hopes all Americans can support.
I also have hopes about how Bush’s opponents will respond.
• They will react to the words Bush actually says and not to negative interpretations they might be able to spin.
• They will listen to Bush as their President and not as the caricature they have invented.
• They will give the President credit for what he says well.
• They will use respect and reason to criticize what they disagree with.
• Should Bush admit error, they will appreciate it and not use it as a means to heighten their attacks on him.
• They will acknowledge that this is not just “Bush’s War” but is a war we are all in.
Are my hopes pure fantasy? Almost certainly. I don’t expect Bush to be candid and, even if he is, I don’t expect his opponents to react with anything other than their usual angry attacks. But I hope something good comes out of tonight. I hope somehow, some way both sides begin to acknowledge we’re in this together and we win or lose together.
We are at war. But we’re practically acting like two separate nations. And we all know what happens to a house divided against itself. I look to the President to start being the uniter he promised he’d be. And I look to his opponents to be willing to lay down their arms if the President offers his hand.