Tuesday, June 28, 2005

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.


At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

Sorry to agree with you, but I think your hopes are a fantasy. I no longer believe anything Bush says. He lost all credibility with me long ago. When I hear his voice on the radio, I just turn it off. I can't stand to listen to him.

If he *were* to start admitting mistakes in a humble way, he would gain ground with me, not lose it.

My husband was recently telling me the same thing. He can't stand to hear him speak, so he turns off the radio. What point is there in listening to someone if you don't believe that person is communicating honestly?

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Dr. Ernie said...

Hi Alan, very well said. I share both your hopes and your fears. I've posted it on my radical middle mailing list, Centroids. I can see why Mark recommended you. Sincerely, Dr. Ernie.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Jami said...

best post i've seen on this topic. i don't expect such honesty from bush or even-handedness from my side, but hope springs eternal.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Sonny said...

I'm not sure it matterS one way or the other what Bush has to say at this point. He's fading into lame duck obscurity as we speak...

Also, I think that it is clearly Bush's war. He was responsible for starting the war in Iraq (I supported the war in Afghanistan BTW), it's conduct and it's current state. He packaged and marketed it like a new brand of soap. Some fools bought into it.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Laniker said...

I really hope your dream comes true, Alan, but I don't expect it. Bush won't admit any mistakes--imagine the media frenzy that would ensue. But this is exactly what he needs to do to earn the respect of the everyday American. Unfortunately, us everyday Americans only talk to our co-worker at lunch and the loud-mouths continue to rule the day.

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous paulk said...

Alan, sadly I have to agree with most of the points you made in the post. I don't believe Bush is even capable of being honest and upfront about almost anything, let alone the war he got us into. Nor do I trust that his vocal opposition will respond with intellegent and meaningful criticism.

We have "put our foot it it" and there is no easy way out. The ones I feel the most sorry for in this nightmare are the Iraqi people, the U.S. troops who are dieing over there, and their families. They are the ones who are paying the real price for Bush's Folly.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...

Alan, I would like to add to what you said. It would take a lot more than Bush admitting the error of his ways, I'd have to see him willing to make concessions. Face it, after admitting guilt, you still have to do the time.

Bush has gone too far to push everyone away except "his base" as he calls the extreme Right. Bush and his crew have such a hatred of anyone who disagrees with them that the hatered is returned. Do unto others and all that rot.

All of that said, I too hope he admits to his mistakes and doesn't try to blame it on others. He'll lose me the first time he passes the buck!

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Mike Todd said...

You two are running a great site here -- nice to see some even-handed discussion. Even if I don't agree with everything you have to say, I most definitely agree with how you say it. Thanks.

At 12:33 AM, Blogger Jami said...

robert, bush doesn't need to pass the buck -- he has the connie media to blame clinton for everything for him.

the speech was a disappointment, but my hopes weren't tootoo high.


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