News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


State of Union reflects November-February

President Bush seemed almost as happy at the success of last week's elections in Iraq as he was at winning his own re-election.

After all, the massive turnout of voters and the diminished violence were his victory, too.

Last week, what he said about the war and the pending election would have captured more attention from the State of the Union address he delivered Wednesday night. But with the Iraqi election only a few days old and the violence still at a low level, Iraq was in a waiting period.

Thus, the president paid homage to the Iraqi citizens and American forces and moved on, but not before issuing a somewhat subtle warning to Iran.

With the nation so evenly divided politically on a population basis, many people didn't bother to watch his address. But others did and reaffirmed their Republican vote.

The president's job, considering the November election outcome, is to bring people together, to sell them on a direction for the country. Yet, while offering to listen to any proposals on Social Security, he is attempting to reshape the country to conform with ideology that nearly half the country doesn't share.

His role isn't to muscle Congress, where Republicans have a distinct advantage, but to convince dissenting Americans that he is right on the issues that divide.

The red vs. blue state division suggests most of the nation is onboard for the second Bush term. But many states were either red or blue by small majorities, and New York City outvoted most of the western red states combined. Insert purple for red or blue states whose margin was 3 percent or less and that takes away 14 states.

The founding fathers recognized that small states needed equal footing in Congress to promote national unity, so they gave each one two senators regardless of population.

The president has a mandate only to lead, and to do that wisely he must either accept he has no mandate for kicking butt here at home, or he must convince an awful lot of people he is right.

Otherwise, he will continue to divide the nation.

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