A Nod to Big Ideas of the Past, but Domestic Issues Are Now the Focus





Making his seventh and final State of the Union address, President Bush proposed a short list of initiatives Monday that more than anything else underscored the White House’s growing realization that his biggest political opponents now are time and an electorate already looking beyond him.

This address lacked the soaring ambitions of Mr. Bush’s previous speeches, though it had its rhetorical flourishes. 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.

The biggest initiatives of the second Bush term — the remaking of Social Security and the emotionally charged issue of illegal immigration — are now in the category of what the White House calls “unfinished business.” Mr. Bush mentioned them on Monday only to state the obvious: both will remain unfinished on his watch.


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