President George W. Bush's farewell speech is more than a goodbye to the nation that elected him twice. It is his last chance in office to define his tumultuous presidency in his own, unfiltered terms — a mission that will keep his fire burning even after he fades off to a quieter life.
Bush will say goodbye to the country Thursday night. He will follow the script of Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and many before them: Express thanks to the country and pride in the honor of serving, wish the next president well and outline what he considers to be the biggest challenges ahead.
And there will be looking back.
For presidents, parting thoughts are not about parting shots. This will be no different. But Bush is proud of his record and will go out defending it.
President-elect Barack Obama eventually will gain access to the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout fund — politics notwithstanding and more likely sooner than later.
The test is whether he can persuade enough members of his own party to support an extraordinarily unpopular program and avoid an embarrassing veto fight with a Democratic-led Congress at the outset of his presidency. A critical vote could come as early as Thursday.
A week shy of taking office, President-elect Barack Obama already is putting his persuasion skills to a high-stakes test with Congress as he seeks access to the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout fund.
Obama planned to be in the Capitol on Tuesday to meet with Senate Democrats. And his transition team prepared to dispatch top aides to meet with Senate Republicans this week in anticipation of a possible vote Thursday on whether to release the money from the embattled Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Picture Lincoln, in the throes of the Civil War, suddenly mocking his critics in a nyah-nyah voice. Imagine Theodore Roosevelt, leaving office, lamenting out loud about how hated he was by Standard Oil. Summon an image of FDR cracking wise about his wheelchair and grousing about the nasty things Hitler was saying about him.
In a nostalgic final news conference, President George W. Bush defended his record vigorously and at times sentimentally Monday. He also admitted many mistakes, from the "Mission Accomplished" banner during a 2003 Iraq speech to the discovery that the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that he used to justify war didn't exist.
After starting what he called "the ultimate exit interview" with a lengthy and personalized thank-you to the reporters in the room who have covered him over the eight years of his presidency, Bush showed anger at times when presented with some of the main criticisms of his time in office.
He particularly became indignant when asked about America's bruised image overseas.
A request for the remaining $350 billion in financial industry bailout funds could come as early as Monday as the Bush administration and President-elect Barack Obama tag-team uneasy lawmakers for the money.
A vote in Congress is likely soon, possibly this week, several senators predicted after a briefing from Obama economic adviser Larry Summers on the Wall Street bailout, as well as on Obama's separate plan for roughly $800 billion in spending and tax breaks to spur the economy.
President-elect Barack Obama steadily reiterates the vital importance of economic issues, this time through a major policy address Thursday at George Mason University. By contrast, he has largely deferred to the outgoing Bush administration on foreign policy and national security. The incoming administration is practicing diplomacy in generally not discussing policy outside of economics.
In a little over a week's time history will be made in the heart of the capital when Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's first black president witnessed by millions of jubilant supporters.
Washington will be the proud host of the January 20 inauguration of the 44th president, marking the dawning of a new era ushered in by the wildly popular Obama and drawing the curtain on the controversial reign of George W. Bush.
President-elect Barack Obama wants more transparency and strict guidelines for using the second $350 billion of the bailout fund Congress approved last fall to stabilize the nation's financial system.
Obama's economic team has been talking with the Bush administration about having Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ask Congress as early as this week for access to the $350 billion remaining in the bailout fund. If Congress rejected such a request, a presidential veto could still free up the money, unless Congress overrode the veto.
We will not have a feel-good presidency in Barack Obama.
In a major economic speech before inauguration, he warned: I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four.