"This address lacked the soaring ambitions of Mr. Bush's previous speeches, though it had its rhetorical flourishes," he continues. "He invoked the 'miracle of America' but for the most part flatly recited familiar ideas -- cutting taxes, fighting terrorists, the war in Iraq -- rather than bold new ones. Nothing he proposed Monday is likely to redefine how history judges his presidency."
(Duly noted, but would Bush quibble with a legacy that casts him as a tax-cutting terrorist-fighter -- even one who started the war in Iraq?)
Here's your sweep for you: "Anyone hoping to sum up President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address in one sentence might turn to Stephen Sondheim's great song from the stage hit 'Follies': 'I'm Still Here,' " ABC's John Cochran writes. "Bush did what lame-duck presidents usually do: He reminded the country that as commander-in-chief and chief executive for another 12 months, he is still relevant."
USA Today's Susan Page: "The modesty of the new initiatives underscored the limitations in time, money and clout constraining what Bush is likely to accomplish over the next 51 weeks."
"For a president who has always favored boldness, it amounts to a dramatic shift," The Washington Post's Peter Baker writes.
"Just a year ago, Bush in the same chamber defied the new Democratic majority with his decision to send more troops to Iraq and challenged lawmakers to overhaul the immigration system. The past year demonstrated that Congress could not force him to change course in Iraq, but neither could he bend it to his will in the domestic arena."
In his final year, the president seems ready to define himself by his vetoes -- particularly on spending, as he makes what seems like a genuine push for earmark reform. "These are special interest projects put in to conference reports and never voted on," the president tells ABC's Ann Compton. "There's not hearings on whether they make sense, and they are not voted on by the Congress."
I'll be live-blogging Tuesday night as the Florida results roll in, at ABCNews.com's Political Radar.
Also in the news:
California is the big dog of Feb. 5, and a new poll underscores the importance of Florida for Romney. It's McCain 39, Romney 26, Giuliani 13, Mike Huckabee 11 in the L.A. Times/CNN/Politico poll. "McCain has vaulted ahead of three other candidates with whom he shared a statistical tie for the Republican nomination just two weeks ago," the Los Angeles Times' Cathleen Decker writes.
On the Democratic side, it's Clinton 49, Obama 32, John Edwards 11. "Democratic women continued to power her effort, siding with the New York senator by nearly a 2-1 margin," Decker writes. But . . . "the poll was conducted largely before Obama's victory Saturday in South Carolina and the subsequent high-profile endorsements of him by U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and his niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg."
Edwards, D-N.C., is up with a new media buy in Feb. 5 states -- and still looking well beyond that date. Edwards "has his sights set on playing kingmaker at the Denver convention in August," The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports. Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince, in a conference call with reporters: "At a brokered convention, all bets are off."