The White House calls the president's upcoming State of the Union Address thematic.
"The president will have some new policies that he will talk about that will reflect the priorities that the American people care most about, but this is more of a visionary and directional speech than it is a laundry list of proposals," said Scott McClellan, White House press secretary.
As an English major, this columnist can appreciate the development of deep literary themes. However, such elegant prose is not something to expect from President George W. Bush, even with a team of speech writers.
Reuters reports that aides describe the speech as optimistic.
With a 43 percent approval rating, pessimistic is certainly not the way to go. However, there are some huge issues the president needs to address in his State of the Union, and the majority of mainstream America does not perceive these as optimistic.
First and foremost, Hurricane Katrina. This crisis seems to have dropped out of mainstream media and Washington discussion. The president needs to address how to speed up rebuilding the area and what has been done in the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to prevent such a sluggish response in the next natural disaster.
Terrorism and Iraq will likely be a major topic in the State of the Union. Yet President Bush has been notorious for stating that "this is the way to do things because I say so."
When the National Security Administration's (NSA) eavesdropping program was revealed, Bush made a public statement.
"Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely," he said.
The president needs to offer clear evidence that we are winning his "War on Terror" and the war in Iraq. He needs to show a decrease either in terrorist attacks in Iraq, or an improvement in Iraqi security forces. He needs to describe what impact U.S. operations have had on fighting al Qaeda. He needs to provide specific examples when his eavesdropping program protected Americans.
The president needs to address the deficit. The Bush Administration inherited a $128 billion surplus, which they have turned into an $8 trillion deficit. He needs to provide a plan for how America is going to pay for it in this generation, not our children's.
President Bush needs to put forth a plan for reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy while improving renewable energy technologies. Gas prices are too high and pollution is a problem. Instead of attempting to silence NASA climate experts, as the New York Times reported Sunday, the president should work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the effects of global warming.
These four items are paramount and need to be addressed before any new initiatives are suggested by the president on Tuesday.
Ben Bleckley is a senior majoring in English. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian.