Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and it's time to take charge of our future.
That was a year ago, and it seems as if too many days of reckoning have come and gone in the interim. The economy is no better, health care reform has yet to be realized, Gitmo soldiers on, there is no end in sight to our war-involvement, accountability and responsibility are inconvenient afterthoughts-- and that's not even to mention the education and clean energy visions that still remain the stuff of dreams. Of course, Obama could never have, and still cannot, do it alone. Too many of his supporters checked-out after casting their votes for him. But we still need a change we can believe in.
Jonathan Cohn over at The New Republic writes that Obama needs to give "the speech of his life... again" tonight. I agree. But what worries me, more than a little, is that a year from now I will look back on this State of the Union with the same muted frustration. Like Cornel West, I desparately hope that Obama does not use his platform tonight to concede, to "cut deals," to recoil. Here's what I want to hear him say:
1. We haven't accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in my first year, and I am partially responsible for those failures. I'm not giving up. I need your help.
2. To the Congressmen and -women in the room, you are failing your constituents on health care reform. To the American men and women watching at home, you must hold them responsible for their failure. A public option is the only way to stop the hemorrhaging.
3. I compromised the moral integrity of this nation by not closing Guantanamo Bay, by suppressing the evidence of the previous administration's war crimes, by not taking a lead role in the promotion of fair trials for detainees, and by re-engaging us in wars for which we do not have clear exit strategies. I am committed to human rights and the rule of law. I will not slough off my responsibility for seeing those principles promoted and protected on my watch.
4. My love for poor and working people is deep. Deeper than my love for banks, corporations, or politicians.
5. Bipartisanship is a means to an end, not an end-in-itself. On some issues, one side or the other of the Aisle is wrong. I will not be afraid of a fight, and I will not govern for the sake of poll numbers.
I hope that President Obama says these things, and then makes good on them. Otherwise, I fear, tonight will be merely another "speech of his life." Et tu, SOTU?