Even in the speech, reports The New York Times's Sheryl Gay Stolberg, President George W. Bush will focus on the economy and limit Iraq's role to a reminder of "what is at risk."
Michael Abramowitz, of the Washington Post, finds a similar angle: that the president, who for years received no credit for a relatively strong economy, is now getting no credit for an improved Iraq. And that's his challenge. He is able to come into his final -- Abramowitz says "probably final"; does he know something we don't? -- State of Union speech able to talk of improved security for the first time in four years. But the public has moved on to the economy. Still, look for Bush to tout the progress of the last year and announce that he can turn an Iraq that is much more stable over to his successor. Bush will not announce any new troop cuts, aides say. He will leave that until he received recommendations from Gen. David H. Petraeus in the spring. He may, however, push back against the Pentagon, which is urging more troop cuts. "Bush wants to put Iraq 'on a sustainable basis' for the next president -- and will be careful about risking any recent security gains by leaving too few troops in place," writes Abramowitz.
It wasn't all presidential pontificating. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Ahmad Fadam handle the Times' roundup. And it's not great. A band of attackers broke into the home of a senior Baghdad city official and shot and stabbed him and his entire family to death. A militia leader who had allied himself with the Americans was blown up by a bomb planted in his car, the latest of at least a half-dozen leaders who have been killed in the past month. Gunmen kidnapped five women employed by Baghdad University on Sunday. And the U.S. military disclosed the deaths of two soldiers in Baghdad, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
IN OTHER COVERAGE
Walter Pincus chews on the food budget for U.S. troops and officials in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. The bill comes to $1.6 billion a year. Check, please?
USA Today, Christian Science Monitor and Wall Street Journal
No Iraq coverage today.