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January 28, 2008
Bush to give his last SOTU tonight
President Bush will deliver his seventh and last State of the Union message tonight emphasizing gains in Iraq and his initiatives for a slowing economy.
For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation's strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy. With the primaries in full swing, the president's ability to command attention is beginning to diminish. Coupled with the Republican trying to distance themselves from some of his past policies, the lame duck status of the President is now beginning to move the Bush presidency into the background.
That is the problem Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight. For the first time in four years, he will come before Congress able to report some progress in tamping down violence in Iraq.
Yet the public appears to have moved on from the war -- and possibly from Bush himself. The economy has supplanted Iraq as the top public concern, and with voters shifting their focus toward the presidential primaries, Bush faces a steep challenge in persuading Americans to heed his words on the war, economic policy or any other issue, according to administration officials, lawmakers and outside observers.
But that doesn't mean that Bush can't still fight for what he wants from Congress. Just ask the Democrats who spent a brusing summer and fall trying unsuccessfully to change the President's Iraq policies. And Bush proved himself adept at crafting a compromise with House leader Nancy Pelosi on the stimulus package that he will highlight tonight.
But legislative initiatives proposed by the President will be given short shrift by a Democratic Congress more concerned with making Republicans look bad than they are in getting much done for the country.
The president is about to win another big victory on amending FISA which should once again demonstrate the impotence of Democrats in fighting him on national security matters. The bill would streamline FISA procedures and alllow for the kind of wiretapping found in the Terrorist Surveillance Program while giving telecom companies immunity from lawsuits for their cooperation with the government in carrying out the program.