A checklist, in no particular order of importance:
1. The President and his staff have encouraged belief that he plans a “call for unity”; a “call for bipartisanship.” Does he? If so, how sincere — how genuine — does it strike you?
2. Journalists have been led to believe that, besides immigration, Mr. Trump will center on infrastructure, national security, health care and trade. Will he? And might he do so in any new, breakthrough way?
3. Will he threaten — again — to invoke Presidential “emergency powers” to start building his border wall?
4. Will he announce the time and place for his next meeting with North Korea’s leader?
5. This is a “read from the Teleprompter” speech. He prefers and is better at “off-the-cuff-at-rallies” performances; some of his worst speeches have been off Teleprompter. Will this be different, given that tone, pace and an air of confidence are important in determining how audiences react to public oratory — and in a President’s power to persuade.
6. Will he deal in deceit, or outright lie, as he has often in the past? (Sad to say, but true — based on facts and his record.)
Keep in mind that despite all the hoopla and intense coverage, State of the Union speeches are generally little noted nor long remembered in history. In the past, they have frequently been boring, sometimes to the point of being narcolepsy-inducing.
Presidents, as with most politicians, tend to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative on big stages such as this. Will Mr. Trump be any different tonight — will he deliver any surprises? Pre-speech, doubt prevails. Once he delivers, you decide.