After six state of the union addresses filled with empty promises to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats to tackle the nation's domestic problems, President Bush again made the overture during his state of the union address this week.
However, this time his tone was different. Humbled, perhaps, by his failures in Iraq and the prospects of a Democrat controlled Congress for the final two years of his presidency, Bush's pledge to work together with members of both parties rings a little more true. Bush, well known during his days in Texas as a man willing to seek common ground, seems to be distancing himself from the Karl Rove strategy of ignoring and villifying his political opponents.
On Tuesday, Bush outlined domestic policies both parties might be willing to work together and forge compromises on that will help the American public. For starters, he officially acknowledged global climate change and set the stage for energy reform even though many conservative pundits and spin doctors still are either downplaying the effects of climate change or contending man has nothing to do with it.
The power of big oil companies has long delayed the mainstream introduction of alternative fuels. But Bush is correct in saying: "Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America's economy running and America's environment clean."
Along with his much needed push to promote energy alternatives, the president also discussed other issues that have long begged for reform.
Bush again addressed the need for reforming Social Security and Medicare. While his initial plans are too similar to privatization to gain much traction with a Democratic Congress, at least Bush has started the discussion a refreshing change from the pointless debates that usually goes on at the capitol.
While the president has a an uphill battle selling the public and Congress on his new plan for Iraq, a renewed focus on domestic issues and some actual governance rather than just vitriolic posturing would be welcome. We hope Bush and the Democrats will follow through.