In a very good column in Saturday's Boston Globe, Robert Kuttner examines various possibilities of how Bush will twist the facts in tomorrow's State of the Union address to paint a rosy picture.
How do YOU give an upbeat State of the Union address when your major foreign policy, Iraq, is a quagmire; your signature domestic program, Medicare drugs, is a bomb; and nearly two thirds of Americans, according to the latest Gallup Poll, think the country is worse off than five years ago?
Here are a few things to watch for in President Bush's first big election-year speech Tuesday:
Mission Accomplished? On Iraq, look for rhetoric of steady resolve, coupled with promises to limit American exposure. Bush could offer a partial reduction of US combat troops during 2006 (in time for the mid-term election) -- but without any realistic prospect of a stable Iraqi government to fill the vacuum. One idea: a "garrison strategy" of keeping most US forces safely inside bases. This might cut American combat losses, but cede the countryside to guerrilla fighters and anarchy.
The Boy Who Cried Nukes. On Iran, watch for stern saber-rattling without a realistic plan to contain Iran's alarming nuclear ambitions.
Last Refuge of a Scoundrel. Bush will demand that Congress extend the so-called USA Patriot Act, even though he insists that he doesn't need it in order to spy on Americans and conduct searches without warrants. Which is it, Mr. President? Bad law, or bad lawlessness?