In one new announcement, Bush will try to reduce the use of earmarks, a common Capitol Hill practice of slipping pet projects into spending bills.The most secretive administration in history -- which has defied every court in the land rather than turn over documents that rightfully belong to the American taxpayers -- wants to force somebody else to be more transparent! The irony couldn't possibly be richer.
He will pledge to veto any spending bill that does not cut earmarks in half from levels spelled out in the current budget.
Bush also plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday directing agencies to ignore any future earmarks that are not actually written into law, but rather tucked into obscure "report" language.
The White House says the move will force Congress to make its spending more transparent.
However, that plan leaves untouched the more than 11,700 earmarks totaling $16.9 billion that Congress approved last year.
And all for only 16.9 billion? Compared to the $700 billion they dropped on just one earmark, all the fuss hardly seems worth it.
And it isn't, except as a diversion.
In many ways, Bush will be using a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook.How could this president even contemplate a legacy speech? He's ruled over one disaster after another, and he hasn't even seemed to care.
Two decades ago, Reagan, in his last address to Congress, focused on legislation, not legacy.
"If anyone expects just a proud recitation of the accomplishments of my administration, I say let's leave that to history," he said. "We're not finished yet."
Bush also does not plan to turn the speech into a retrospective look at his time in office.
"I can understand how many people, especially those that cover the president in the press, could see that the president would approach this as his legacy speech," Perino said. "But no, not at all. This is a very forward-looking speech."
For Bush -- as, in truth, for many presidents before him -- the truth of his legacy is something he will run away from, for the rest of his life.
And his fellow politicians -- on both sides of the aisle -- and the mainstream media (of course!) will assist him every step of the way.
For a lucid case study on how they do that, please see Chris Floyd's newest post, "Singing For Suharto: The Lasting Values of the Great and Good", and pay heed to Floyd's closing lines:
When it comes to the great and the good, never forget this one fact: they hate you, and they don't care if you suffer and die, just as long as they can keep gorging on the perks of loot and power.And for a look back at last year's pre-SOTU festivities (and one of my all-time favorite cold posts), click here.