It is strong despite our disagreements. It is strong despite the issues and problems that prevent us from being a perfect society.
Indeed, even the sum of our imperfections makes our union strong because we see them for what they are and daily strive to reduce them.
The State of the Union address is political theater for sure. But it is also a visual reminder of the essential trappings of a democracy that allows for dissent and argument under one roof, in close physical proximity as much as intellectual disparity.
Sadly, we have been reminded in recent days of parts of the world where contrasting views and dissenting opinions are not afforded the kind of protection that we expect in America.
With regard to the speech itself, criticism and commentary has of course varied. Largely written by an Irish American, William McGurn, the address sounded very much like a second term, election year, report to the nation.
The really memorable presidential speeches tend to come at the beginning and at the end of a White House tenure, or against the backdrop of unexpected and significant events.
The most memorable line in this address was about America’s addiction to oil. We have no problem with the president’s characterization although, like everyone else, we await more detailed proposals of a cure.
It was good to hear Bush mention immigration and present, albeit briefly, the case for an immigration policy that actually envisages immigrants.
Again, though, the devil is in the details. What does the president actually mean by “amnesty?”
For now he is holding his counsel on that one.
But it would appear that he is at least holding fast to his position that a guest-worker program, at the very least, should emerge from the upcoming immigration debate.
It is to be hoped that by next year’s address to the nation, this and other reform measures will have taken hold and that our American union, comprised of natural-born citizens and newly arrived immigrants, will be stronger still.