The President’s speech last night was underwhelming if you ask me. But it accomplished the goal. He was honest, engaging and played well to his first unfriendly audience. He came across as sincere and genuine in his convictions with respect to the war in Iraq. And fortunately he was not confined to a backdrop resembling a European library somewhere in Prague like his last attempt.

I have to think that the real purpose of last night’s State of the Union was to “put the ball in the Democrats’ court.” As Commander in Chief, it is President Bush’s duty to determine the best path for success in Iraq. He has done that and Gen. Petraeus’ confirmation hearing yesterday should serve as testimony to it. Thus he did the only thing that really makes sense at this polarizing moment in history – he embraced bipartisanship in an honest manner on domestic issues and then asked his detractors and Americans alike to unite behind him to get on the path towards “victory.”

If you think about it, the only real glue holding any of this together in the debate over Iraq is that no one wants to lose a messy war.

And that’s why this was the money quote of the entire speech:

We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way.

It isn’t elegant. It isn’t awe-inspiring. And it isn’t likely to change many minds. But it will be remembered and it puts the Democrats and Republicans in the position to having to commit one way or another.

The American people have been losing their patience and confidence in Iraq for some time now. President Bush accepted that national sentiment last night and he has charted something that can no longer be characterized as “staying the course.” At least that is my deepest hope and in respecting many of the military minds out there, this plan could actually work.

Will the new initiatives on healthcare, energy independence, global warming, earmarks and immigration amount to anything? Maybe, but I doubt it. Iraq is the end game and I am willing to bet that we will be discussing this issue on this same date in the President’s final State of the Union next year.

Hopefully we will have something better to report in the annual nation’s report card.

I can be reached for questions or comments at Griffsnotes@foxnews.com.