The American President’s ‘State of the Union address’ is more of a soliloquy than a real report card of an administration. George W Bush’s final State of the Union address on Monday was not quite the stuff of Hamlet, but it did have its ‘To be or not to be...’ existentially rife moments. Mr Bush, of course, was in no mood to showcase self-doubt — understandably a silly thing for politicians — but more inclined to paint a pretty picture with a bad set of oils. Mr Bush’s America is not a single United States. When one looks at the ‘backyard issues’ of recession and the state of healthcare and education, America is not only divided in its opinion, but is politically splintered.
Energy security has been an issue that Mr Bush has been following as keenly as a Texan oilman. Many believe this interest has driven the US’s strategic interests over the proverbial cliff. While making the usual tweeting sounds on the need to push the use of renewable energy and foster new technology, he refrained from grabbing the bull by the horns: carbon emissions and the ameliorative Kyoto protocol. But if that is plain denial, then there is the litany of plain delusions. His take on the “pressing challenge” of immigration was to inform his audience the need for America to “secure our borders” — without engaging in much needed contrapuntal reassurances for the world’s archetypal immigrant nation.
Mr Bush must have noticed that unlike in past State of the Union addresses, his ra-ra spirit of über-optimism would sound ridiculous in the context of Iraq and the ‘war against terrorism’. In 2003, he had stated on the same platform that “we have the terrorists on the run”. On Monday, he admitted that “the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains”. In other words, he doesn’t know how things are going on an issue that has erupted on too many fronts for America to handle alone. On Monday, the 43rd American President delivered his last State of the Union. He leaves more than just something rotten in the state of the United States for the 44th US President.