President Bush will use his State of the Union message Tuesday night to try to reassure Americans living under the twin shadows of war and a deteriorating economy of a brighter future.
Bush will announce "nothing major" or costly in the way of domestic proposals, given the clampdown on spending for virtually everything except the war effort, according to his press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater.In that vein, Bush intends to spend about half the speech talking about the war, with a positive spin on prospects for its conclusion, officials say.
"When everyone is thinking about the war, you can't talk about the domestic agenda and expect anyone to listen," said Stephen Hess, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who specializes in the presidency.
Nonetheless, Bush will devote considerable time to talking in general terms about domestic issues that critics claim he has neglected.
Sources familiar with the speech preparations said there will be no "laundry list" of initiatives. Instead, Bush will keep to a thematic approach, they said.
White House budget director Richard Darman said Sunday the president's next proposed budget will include a spending increase of just 2.6 percent, but "we'll still be able to do things like invest $76 billion in research and development and $87 billion in children."
The president is expected to stress that the United States will win the war against Iraq, that it's only a matter of time. And he will insist the economic downturn will be short-lived.