I didn't watch much of Bush's address, but two of the things I did catch left me aghast. One was his frontal assault on the question of NSA wiretaps and the president's constitutional authority, which wasn't surprising so much because of the president (who has a proven record of defiant check-raises) but because members of Congress were cheering upon their own emasculation. Hello? I wonder if one would be shot for walking out of one of these things.
Then there was the bizarre call for Congress to reenact the line item veto, which was held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998. What an ominous and audacious thing to be saying on the day his second Supreme Court appointee was confirmed, especially given Congress's concerns about Alito's abilty to stand up to executive overreaching. Is he serious? Obviously he is, given the extent to which this speech has been carefully crafted. So was this a message to the Court, a message to his new nominee, or just the usual hardheaded power-hungry tone (see defiant check-raises, above)? In any case it seems like a futile move, given the geography of the Court's decision in Clinton v. City of New York (which is comforting).
MORE: Just wanted to mention that I'm not against the line-item veto per se, and that it obviously has benefits at a time when corruption and pork are running rampant through the legislature. But I have enough sense to be against anything that would give this president more power.
UPDATE: Now Baude is on the line item veto question with a series of possibilities about why the president might have brought up a mechanism that is well known to be unconstitutional.
I have one more possibility to add: This is the president's way of making it clear that he is not in a position to stop Congress from passing special interest legislation, and that therefore he bears no responsibility for the current mess.