The Real State of the Union, The Speech That Should Have Been

Dan Murphy

Since I found President Bush’s speech to be woefully inadequate, I decided to write the speech that he should have given.

“My fellow Americans, I speak to you tonight in a time of great uncertainty. In just this past year, we’ve endured hurricanes, wars, scandals, and controversies. However, I come not to dwell on these events, but to own up to them. My administration has not lived up to its promise of “compassionate conservatism.” From our bungled occupation of Iraq to our deadly inaction after Hurricane Katrina, my administration failed America this past year. I would first like to address our situation in Iraq.

My administration made mistakes planning this war. We vastly underestimated the intensity of the insurgency and the difficult task of rebuilding a nation of over 20 million people. It is quite clear to me that our troop levels are not enough to transform Iraq into a peaceful and democratic nation. Only the Iraqis can do that for themselves. American troops have served honorably in difficult circumstances. It is now time for the Iraqis to take the lead. Beginning next week, I will begin the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq. By the end of the year, our presence will be minimal and the Iraqis will begin to secure and defend their country. Some may see this as a “cut and run” policy. I do not. The United States served a great purpose by ridding the world of Saddam Hussein – but it is now time for the people of Iraq to control their destiny.

The safety and security of the American people is always my number one concern. However, I also have a responsibility to the Constitution and to upholding our American ideals for generations to come. Accordingly, White House attorneys have filed a petition to the FISA court to legally monitor al-Qaeda phone conversations coming in and out of the United States. I was wrong to assume that I was above the law in this matter. Our democracy has worked best when presidents have respected the Constitution.

My administration will continue to work for the domestic needs of our citizens. The people of the Gulf Coast were badly hit by Hurricane Katrina and my White House will do everything in its power to restore this region of the country. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA were downright disgraceful in their response effort, and for that I am sorry.

I will ask Congress to allocate the funds that would have been spent on Iraq this year, roughly $100 billion, to rebuild the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. The U.S. government will issue loans for every family that had its home destroyed. We’ll also fortify the New Orleans levees so that they are able to withstand a Category 5 storm. I will also ask Congress to pass the Gulf Coast Redevelopment Act, to provide substantial tax incentives for businesses that develop in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.

In order to pay for these programs, all Americans will have to sacrifice. I will ask Congress to pass the American Liberty Tax on gasoline which would add a $1 to $2 tax onto the price of gasoline. The proceeds of this tax will go to the Katrina victims and also will fund research for alternative energy sources.

As the richest nation in human history, we have an obligation to provide certain basic needs for all Americans. Over 45 million citizens are without health insurance. This is not acceptable. This government has an obligation to the millions who have to choose between buying groceries and going to the emergency room. I hope that this Congress can bring a universal health care bill to my desk by the end of the year.

In conclusion, I will accept the resignation of my Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove. In an effort to promote reform in government, Mr. Rove’s role in the Valerie Plame leak scandal damaged my presidency and our national security. Senior advisers in my administration must be held to high ethical standards. Our nation has taken some hits this past year, but I’m hopeful that 2006 will be kinder to America. Good night and may God Bless America.”