The only thing worse than having to sit through and then write about another George W. Bush State of the Union Address (and yes, I will post an insta-comment shortly after the speech tonight) is to have to read the soon-to-be irrelevant speculation about what the man's going to say. In today's Post we learned that the speech has gone through 17 drafts, and that Bush had practiced it twice as of yesterday. We learned that it would last about 40 minutes, not counting the time that will be consumed by both routine applause over noncontroversial lines, and sycophantic GOP applause over the red-meat stuff. We learned that the Real People assuming the traditional position flanking the First Lady in the gallery will be Real Voters from Afghanistan and Iraq. And we learned that the speech will represent the Maiden Voyage of new chief presidential speechwriter William McGurn, though of course, the Old Master and author of the Second Inaugural Address, Mike Gerson, will have his hand in as well.
On this last point, former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet did an online piece for The New Republic today predicting that McGurn, formerly of the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Page, will introduce a new, less high-minded, more conventionally conservative, and perhaps more harshly partisan tone into this SOTU. Seems to me that Bush has often used Gersonian universalist language to advance a right-wing policy agenda and to savage Democrats with a genial half-smirk on his face.
We will obviously know what's in store for us soon enough, in painful detail.