Morning Political Note: Jan. 28

Rove, on process: "'The president wants to lay out a big vision about the war and homeland security,' Mr. Rove said. 'He said, "I don't want micro programs."' The speech was essentially written several days ago, Mr. Rove said, adding that by late last week Mr. Bush was 'taking a very sharp pencil' to it."

And he's got a pro forma quote from Republican (and former Enron) lobbyist Ed Gillespie, a big-time outside communications consultant to the administration, quoted outside his now usual Enron context.

Time adds, "aides indicated last week that (the President) … will also get behind efforts to strengthen the rules that require companies to disclose information about hidden liabilities. He will call on Congress to make sure that employees have ways to diversify their retirement savings so that other Enrons don't happen."

The Boston Globe suggests this could be Bush's first speech in which he faces raised, rather than lowered expectations. "With his popularity still soaring, President Bush finds himself in an unfamiliar spot as he prepares for the State of the Union address tomorrow night: for perhaps the first time, many Americans have reason to expect an outstanding performance." ( http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/028/nation/Bush_will_face_raised_expectations+.shtml )

White House spokesperson Dan Bartlett echoes something Karl Rove said not too long ago: "'This is not a typical sophomore State of the Union speech from a president, because this is a nation at war.'" We're still trying to puzzle out what the White House is trying to do with its use of this adjective …

The Washington Times offers a contrary view to the Globe's, suggests that this speech might wind up not even ranking among Bush's top three, given "that's he has already delivered "high-pressure speeches on the war against terrorism, stem-cell research and his narrow victory in the post-election recount wars." ( http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020128-10788625.htm

Speechwriter Mike "Gerson's work on earlier speeches, which were praised by liberals and conservatives alike, has served to mitigate the pressure on Mr. Bush to hit a home run tomorrow."

USA Today offers a clip-'n'-save of their own, on what Bush promised during his speech to the joint session of Congress last February, and what he has delivered on — and not. ( http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020128/3807034s.htm )

Budget Politics

More from Mr. Stevenson's New York Times story: "That Mr. Bush is making his proposals backed by stratospheric job-approval ratings does not hurt his case, either. Still, even before he sends it to Capitol Hill or outlines it in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president's approach to the budget is generating opposition — or at least disquiet — on both sides of the aisle. Getting what he wants may be more complicated for Mr. Bush than it appears."

"Some of Mr. Bush's Democratic opponents are beginning to view the forthcoming budget as another example of how this administration regularly repackages positions it has advocated all along to take advantage of changing circumstances."

"The president's call last week for the biggest defense buildup since Ronald Reagan — $48 billion in additional spending on the military next year — includes $10 billion for the direct costs of the war on terrorism."

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