News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Time for President Bush to change course, reach out

The president who more than five years ago promised to unite, not be a divider, has presided over the hyper-polarization of Washington.

The current administration's stubbornness and insistence that we must "stay the course" in the face of circumstances that demand change have opened the great partisan chasm. Sharp differences on issues as polarizing as war, torture, domestic spying, political corruption and record-deficit spending contributed to the greatest philosophical split in our country since the Civil War.

Government incompetence in response to natural disasters, resulting in unnecessary human suffering, added to the split.

There is a better way.

In a rare moment of candor during his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Bush acknowledged making mistakes in his approach to Iraq, and hinted that he is willing to consider advice from others on how to best move the country forward.

"Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. We've adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefited from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice. Yet, . . ."

It is the final word in the quote above — yet — that makes us skeptical Mr. Bush is sincere in his pledge to "reach out." Too often during the past five years, he has ignored wise counsel from diverse segments of society not in step with his neo-conservative, crusading and at times incompetent administration.

There is, of course, a better way.

It is a bit late in the game to believe President Bush is now willing to admit mistakes, take responsibility and consider sound suggestions from sources outside his inner circle.

But we can hope.

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