The Chinese curse – “may you live in interesting times” – comes to mind when I reflect that tonight is the last time we will hear a State of the Union Address from one of the most interesting Presidents America has ever had. George W. Bush, for all the mysteries and mistakes that characterize his tenure in office, will surely say that “the state of the nation is strong.” And in many regards, the news of the day suggests that even if we are not yet strong as we might be, our inner strength will see us there.
Our military efforts are increasingly successful. This is largely due to the military leadership of David Petraeus and the tens of thousands serving under him, whose aptitude and innovation have allowed him to circumvent the idiocy, vanity and avarice of the politicians in charge of him. Every significant accomplishment – most significant of all being the coalition with the militias we fought against – was in spite of, not because of, our political leaders. Today, we are closing in on what might be the elimination of al-Qaeda’s major tactical assets in Iraq.
U.S. commanders have described Mosul as the last major Iraqi city with a significant al-Qaida presence, although they have warned insurgents remain a potent force in rural areas south and northeast of Baghdad.
But the military has said Iraqi security forces will take the lead in the city — a major test of Washington’s plans to someday shrink the American force and leave it as backup for Iraqi security forces.
Al-Qaida and its supporters would find themselves without a major base of operations if ousted from Iraq’s third-largest city, which occupies transport crossroads between Baghdad, Syria and other points.
At home, another kind of circumvention of the politically perditious is going on. Following an eviscerating victory over Clinton in South Carolina that saw him more than doubling her numbers and even claiming nearly double the percentage of the white vote he was expected to get, Barack Obama is gathering scads of endorsements from the people who count. A trend is becoming increasingly obvious – the moneyed and shiftless support Clinton, the intelligent and dynamic support Obama. We see this in the plethora of poets, philosophers and policy gurus that have thrown their support behind Barack, and the media moguls, corporate officers and radicals who favor Hillary.
“In addition to trouncing Clinton by a more than 2-to-1 margin in South Carolina on Jan. 26, Obama, an Illinois senator, has locked up two key endorsements. Caroline Kennedy, announcing her support yesterday, likened Obama to her father, President John F. Kennedy; Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, one of the few Democrats with a national following, announced his endorsement today.
Also, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who described Bill Clinton as the U.S.’s “first black president” a decade ago, announced her support for Obama. In a letter to Obama released by his campaign, she said he has displayed “wisdom” that makes him “the man for this time.”
And so we continue to gather our strength – we set the wise against the wealthy, and the confident against the corrupt – and we hope that it will be enough. I believe that we can demostrate that it is, even though we have stumbled and been tripped many times by the likes of W. and Hillary. Tonight, we will hear that we can.
In a week and a day, we will have to prove it.