Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Not Getting Myself in a State

I promised myself I wouldn't get in a state about the State of the Union. I expected to be disappointed by last night's speech and didn't plan to write about it. A year ago, I took a crack at what Pres. Bush should say in his inauguration address, and missed big time. Last week, Thomas Friedman helpfully provided a draft of the State of the Union. Read it, to see just how short the real speech fell.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology.

George Bush didn't use any formal treatment to help him address his acknowledged alcohol abuse. Instead, he went straight for the Higher Power option, and maybe that worked for him. But his State of the Union address shows he doesn't understand addiction.

America is addicted to oil, but addicts are good at getting the words right, without getting to their truth. And without brutal and complete honesty, recovery isn't going to happen.

Not by 2025. Not ever. Because when the U.S. finally hits bottom and is ready to admit it is powerless over its addiction to oil, it will be too late.

Tellingly, the president frames the issue as one of competitiveness and national security. A problem to be solved by technology, not fundamental behavior change. His only mention of the environment occurs just after he poses his big goal: "to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment … move beyond a petroleum-based economy … and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

The words "conserve" and "conservation" do not appear even once in the speech of this conservative.

In the 2003 State of the Union address by this former oilman — which I mistakenly googled first looking for his addiction quote — the word "oil" does not appear once. But addiction did:

Our nation is blessed with recovery programs that do amazing work. One of them is found at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A man in the program said, "God does miracles in people's lives, and you never think it could be you." Tonight, let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this message of hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you. (Applause.)

Unfortunately, our president believes in miracles.


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