Can anyone doubt that Bush has timed his preparations for invading Iraq with tonight's State of the Union address?

I have to give the Administration a lot of credit. They've expended almost all their post-September 11 political capital in moving the country to the inevitablility of war (and make no mistake; I would guess the admirals and generals are now reading the current timetable for the initiation of operations in days or at the most, a week, rather than months. Jeff Cooper has elucidated my opinion on why Bush has worked the country into a corner and now we'll have to go get Saddam), and now Bush has the opportunity, the Constitutionally-obligated opportunity, to generate new political capital, with tonight's State of the Union.

I don't think anyone who has any idea of the current political climate could fail to guess what Bush will say tonight: that Saddam has resisted the obligations placed on him for too long, that the United States has a duty to make the world safe against these tyrants who threaten with the prospect of WMD and state-sponsored terrorism, and that if other nations will not rise to the call of imposing this geopolitcal safety, that the United States will not shirk from this duty and will depose Saddam and make Iraq free for those who have suffered under his regime.

It's a brilliant approach and a master stroke of planning.

I've hinted before that the popular political support does not currently exist. Watch Bush drum it up tonight. He'll not convince everyone, but he'll get enough people to quiet their yells or even switch sides to create the political environment he needs for the go-ahead in Iraq. Remember Bush's call to service proclamation in last year's State of the Union and the swell of participation in community and public programs that resulted in the following month? Obviously, much of that built grew more from the still very prescient images of September 11, but Bush's call to action galvanized a people full of latent emotions but not yet disposed to do anything with them. You will not see the kind of reaction tomorrow that last year's speech had, but you will see people who have raised their voices against action in Iraq step back, and you'll see other people who had up to this point on the matter sat on the fence come up and give Bush the political environment he needs.

The media have, in the last few weeks, made quite a point of noting that other Security Council governments are making noise and saying they might take steps to block new Security Council resolutions. We've seen France and Germany say outright that war against Iraq is wrong and they won't have anything to do with it, and we've seen MTV Europe running commercials denouncing action in Iraq. Tonight, Bush gets to jump on an ivory pulpit, take the flag of righteousness and waive in over the words France, Germany and Russia. His rhetoric will make these nations look like cowards, like poor Western citizens shirking their duties to democracy and to the world. Watch for the reaction from foreign governments Wednesday morning; they'll make excuses and posture as to why Bush has no right to go into Iraq or accuse other governments of not pulling their weight. But these will be feeble responses. Bush will not accomplish much on the world stage to further the Iraq cause and muster up support, but he'll get just enough of what he needs to go storming into Baghdad and get Saddam.

Politics, politics. I have to admit, when I cast my vote for Gore in November of 2000, I never thought Bush (whether it be him or his team of pros) had the intelligence and the political savvy to make moves like this, to find ways to get what he wants against strong opposition. More than two years later, I wonder if Gore & Co. would ever have had the ability to play the political game like this. Of course, if Gore were in office, do we even have an Iraq situation? (No opinion on whether I think this would be good or bad from me at the moment.)

You all ready for Bush to get his way? Again?