I am dreading tomorrow night’s State of the Union address. Bush is in such a weakened political state that reports indicate that he is going to do something he’s never done before: propose a tax hike to provide health insurance for the uninsured. It will, of course, be called an initiative or some such foolishness; it will not make the media any nicer to Dubya than it was to dear old dad after he caved on taxes.

Bush has been rhetorically of his game lately. It’s being reported that the president will avoid talking about Iraq tomorrow night (another mistake). He should talk about it, but he should incorporate the ideas of others who have been able to make the important points about Iraq better than he has. Henry Kissinger did this yesterday in the Washington Post. Sorry, I can’t seem to find it today, but I am certain that the more technologically savvy will have no trouble doing so and here is a thought from Kissinger to get your engines going:

“The disenchantment of the American public with the burdens it has borne largely alone for nearly four years has generated growing demands for some type of unilateral withdrawal, usually expressed as benchmarks to be put to the Baghdad government that, if not fulfilled in specific time frames, would trigger American disengagement.

“But under present conditions, withdrawal is not an option. American forces are indispensable. They are in Iraq not as a favor to its government or as a reward for its conduct. They are there as an expression of the American national interest to prevent the Iranian combination of imperialism and fundamentalist ideology from dominating a region on which the energy supplies of the industrial democracies depend. An abrupt American departure would greatly complicate efforts to stem the terrorist tide far beyond Iraq; fragile governments from Lebanon to the Persian Gulf would be tempted into preemptive concessions.”

I happen to think that Bush was right to believe better political institutions (known collectively as democracy) could have a domino effect in the Middle East. But we moved too fast with elections, never did pacify the country, listened to those talking exit before we entered. To go to war you have to be willing to do three things: anything it takes to win, kill, and be killed. We wanted to wage a kinder, gentler war, and it didn’t work. But we can still succeed, and it is in our self-interest to do so.

Please say so, Mr. President.