Of course, you knew that. But I must add to that the warning that the state of your government too is awful. It has, for all practical purposes, nearly ceased to function.
This is not the way I had envisioned my first State of the Union. During the campaign I promised change you could believe in. I promised to change the way Washington does business. I promised to end America's reckless and counterproductive military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. I promised to close America's gulag at Guantanamo. I promised to begin repairing the damage done by 8-years of Republican economic mismanagement and redressing the horrific damage those policies did to America's once robust and growing middle class. And I promised to put the US at the forefront of protecting our endangered environment.
A year later those promises go largely un-kept. Instead of leveraging the enormous political capital entrusted to me by voters to keep those promises, I made deals with some of the very people who caused the massive challenges we now face.
I took office believing if I was reasonable, the other side would be reasonable as well and, after establishing a foundation of trust and good faith, we could find common ground for the common good.
I was warned the other side had no intention of seeking common ground but instead were dedicated only to making certain that I and my fellow Democrats fail at whatever we try. And that's exactly what has happened.
Now my party, just one year since voters entrusted their hopes, dreams and confidence to us, is exhausted and facing the prospect of defeat next November. The blame for that belongs squarely on my shoulders. Many of them resisted, but I insisted. I was wrong. They were right.
Now 35 million Americans may continue to have no health insurance. Taxes cuts continue to enrich the already rich while average Americans suffer. Hundreds of billions of dollars that we don't have continue to be squandered in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Washington continues protecting big banks and Wall Street brokerage houses while 15% of America's workers remain unemployed, struggling to keep a roof over their family's heads, even to provide their daily bread.
For these failings and others, for breaking my promises to voters, for managing from a distance rather than leading from the front --- for all this, my fellow Americans, I take full and personal responsibility. When the history of my first year in office is written, historians will not be kind nor should they be.
But that's the past, a bell that cannot be un-rung. So I must look ahead. Not all is lost. I have three more years in office, and I intend to use every precious second of those years to redress those mistakes. So, enough with the mea culpas and onto tomorrow.
First let me announce that, effective February 1, there will be some personnel changes at the White House. Economic adviser, Larry Summers, will be leaving to return to academia. And Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, will be leaving to return to Wall Street. I want to thank both these good men for for their service during the most difficult economic times in nearly a century. I wish them both God's speed.
I will submit for Treasury Secretary the name of Paul Volcker, a man who requires no introduction and who's qualifications for this difficult and critical position go with out question. I expect the Senate to confirmed him immediately. Mr. Volker will also serve as my economic adviser assuring that the policies decided in the Oval Office are carried out in the most expedient manner by Treasury.
Tomorrow I will ask the House of Representatives to vote within the next few days to accept, unchanged, the Senate version of health care reform. I understand that the Senate measure differs in many important ways from the House version. But, let's be clear, the Senate version is the best we can get under current circumstances. Blame me for that if you wish, but we need to get this measure signed into law immediately as the forces of obstruction have seen their obstructionist tactics bear fruit at the ballot box. We no longer have 60 votes in the Senate. So get the Senate version on my desk and I will sign it into law. Then we will at least have a reform platform upon which to build, rather than trying to start from scratch in election year and we all know what that would mean.
During the campaign I decried the reckless and, many would say, lawless way the previous administration treated the law, international laws and our own precious constitution. But I haven't acted on those concerns. Instead I decided doing so would be seen as simply a partisan attack by the other party, complicating my domestic initiatives, like health care reform. That was wrong. Americans are rightly proud that in a land of law, not men, no one is above the law... or should be.
Therefore I have authorized the Department of Justice to pursue any legitimate evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the executive branch. And I have ordered all government agencies, including the CIA and Department of Defense, to fully and completely cooperate with any investigations the Attorney General authorizes. This includes, but is not limited to those who authorized torture, engaged in torture, lied or misled Congress or aided and abetted any of the above.
To ensure any such investigations are not deemed political, I have asked the attorney general to engage a unquestionably non-partisan prosecutor whose credentials and neutrality are beyond question. If no wrongdoing is uncovered, fine. The nation can move on. But if laws were broken, those responsible must be treated exactly the same way ordinary Americans are treated when they break the law. Because when America is no longer about equal justice for all, America is no longer.
Earlier this month the US Supreme Court issued a ruling which, if left untouched, would change our representative democracy in ways that would render it unrecognizable, not to mention un-democratic. Corporations and unions big enough to buy whatever they want, will be able to take everything they want as well. The ability to literally purchase a member of Congress, even future presidents, thanks to this shocking decisions, is now a reality.
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