01/29/08 — No duck and run: The president’s message not just empty words

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No duck and run: The president’s message not just empty words

Presidents who are in their last year of office are called lame ducks for a reason. They are not the focus anymore. Discussions of their popularity and effectiveness are replaced by analysis of candidates who all claim they are the agents of change that the people are looking for in the next leader of the free world.

And while the sitting president carries some clout, his influence is muted as the next round of hopefuls squares off to take over his job.

So, listening to President George W. Bush’s last State of the Union address should have meant different things to different people.

For some, it was the beginning of the end of a president they think has been nothing but harmful to the country.

For others, it was a chance to see a leader take one last stand at staying the course for an agenda and policies he believes in.

And for most of the rest of the country, it is a chance to look back, re-evaluate and to decide what qualities and ideas we want to keep and which we want to send packing when the current administration leaves office.

President Bush touched on many of the same themes he has always talked about — immigration, Iraq and the War on Terror, education, Social Security and the economy.

It is what he still thinks is important — and what he wants to focus on as he completes his last months in office.

And while it is OK to think more about what’s next, we, as a country, need to remember that there are still mountains to climb before the next president takes over. We need to take stock of our priorities and the realities facing this nation and the world now and in the future.

The new president won’t have every answer.

And just like anyone who is elected to the office, we will disagree with some policies, support others and heap criticism on those that get us nowhere.

That is the art and science of being president — finding as many ways as possible to find as many people as possible who share your vision.

President Bush is a lame duck now, but his State of the Union was a call to arms to his country to remember some of its priorities and its challenges.

He might not be around to help us determine the next step, but he was right to remind us that there are still 11 months of work to be done before a new name goes on the desk in the Oval Office.

It is a duty we should remember.

Published in Editorials on January 29, 2008 12:09 PM