Two thoughts I have not seen in other places (probably for good reason):

1. President Bush scored big on Iraq in his State of the Union Speech. Saving his strong suit for last, Bush hammered the faint of heart and chorus of doomsayers, coming back time and again to the contrast between the despair of early 2007 and myriad hopeful signs of 2008.

Inarguably, for good or for ill, George Bush owns the "surge" in Iraq. Last night he was taking it out for a spin, driving slow down the main drag, and whistling at the girls in the Mustang convertible. For the most part, the Democrats had to sit there and take it. All in all, last night seemed a pretty good night for the President.

One more thing: I was also cheered by his leisurely exit from the chamber, shaking hands and signing autographs in his trademark good-natured manner. He is at his best yucking it up with friends and adversaries alike.

2. Bush has been incredibly responsive and adept at massaging the international economic uncertainty that threatens to throw the world into recession.

Bush moved quickly, forcefully, and confidently after the dramatic downturns in world markets last Monday. With futures trading at 500 points below the opening on Tuesday, Bush followed Ben Bernanke’s announcement of an unprecedented three-quarter point cut in the federal funds rate with an equally rare productive meeting with Congressional leadership in which he secured a stimulus package for the sputtering economy.

In truth, Presidents have little control over the economy in the short run--save some psychological leger demain--but Bush has been making the most of his bully pulpit and good political horse sense.

For the record, the death of Heath Ledger may have done as much to stave off the great market crash of 2008 as George Bush or Ben Bernanke. That is, the banner headlines reading, "HEATH LEDGER IS DEAD," and stories extolling the many virtues of the twenty-eight year-old Barrymore were much better for economic sanity than the alternative headline of "MARKETS CRASHING: RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"

Anyhow, George Bush may have gotten the break he needed, which allowed him to finesse the rest. Of course, the great crash of 2008 may be mere hours away. Who knows? The truth is the economy probably deserves a downturn. Bush inherited a slumping economy, made worse by 9-11, and not helped by a war that turned out much more expensive than anyone imagined. Having said that, the President does not get nearly enough credit for babying this economy through some tough times, and presiding over a period of significant growth.

An Aside: if you did not know better, you would think this dumb SOB from Texas was a Harvard MBA or something.

Bottom Line: understanding well that the politics of this situation are deadly and rigged against him, for the good of his historical reputation and the electoral fortunes of his party, he is desperately trying to help the troubled economy limp off the 2008 calendar and crash on someone else's watch.

Let's hope he can pull it off.