The final speech?

Sharp-eyed MPR Midmorning producer Nancy Lebens found an odd word in today’s Washington Post preview of President Bush’s State of the Union address:

For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation’s strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy.

That is the problem Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight. For the first time in four years, he will come before Congress able to report some progress in tamping down violence in Iraq. Yet the public appears to have moved on from the war — and possibly from Bush himself.


Under what scenario could this not be President Bush’s final State of the Union address?

The 22nd Amendment says:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

What about vice president? Nope. The 12th Amendment takes care of that, because it’s an elected office.

The third in line of succession is the Speaker of the U.S. House, currently Nancy Pelosi. There’s nothing to prevent President Bush from running for Congress in November and becoming Speaker of the House if the Republicans should sweep into power. Likewise, he could run for the Senate, be named Senate president, and the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House are unable to serve.

Then, if something were to happen to the elected ticket, the president could give another State of the Union speech. Officially, though, it couldn’t occur until 2010. The first speeches of incoming sessions are, technically, speeches “to a joint session of Congress,” and aren’t considered State of the Union speeches.

The only other scenario I can come up with in which this isn’t President Bush’s final State of the Union address is if he were to join the cabinet of the incoming president, and the entire line of succession above him is unable to serve.

Does the Washington Post know something?