Five things to watch for in Obama's State of the Union
Former White House speech writers offer pointers to watching President Obama's State of the Union Tuesday night.
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Lehrman assented, saying research has shown as much as 30 to 40 percent of the legislative requests laid out in a president’s state of the union address get passed in the next year, even with divided government. Whatever the current state of affairs between the White House and Capitol Hill, watch how Obama talks to Congress to see if he thinks 30 to 40 percent is possible - or, on the other hand, worth achieving.Skip to next paragraph
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4. Quote Kansas.
No, Obama shouldn’t be humming Carry on My Wayward Son. But savvy viewers would be wise to look back at the President’s speech in Osawatomie, Kan. in December (full text here.) At the core of that speech was this line:
"I’m here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them."
The themes of fairness and the middle class will likely be smack-dab in the middle of Obama’s state of the union - comparing what he says now to what he said in Osawatomie may help gauge where the president feels the electoral and political winds are blowing.
As McConnell wryly noted, Roosevelt “made that speech at the beginning of the only campaign he ever lost.”
5. The rebuttal dance
Mitch Daniels, the Indiana Governor tasked with giving the Republican rebuttal, is in a tight spot.
“It’s a balancing act,” Lehrman said. “You want to be conciliatory, you want to show respect for the office [of president], but you want to be concrete in the things you want to criticize. This is an economy speech, the emphasis is on jobs, and so the emphasis in the response should also be on jobs.”
Winston argued that Republicans will find the 2012 election as part referendum on Obama’s policies, part choice between Obama and a Republican alternative. As such, the rebuttal should weigh critique of Obama with the GOP’s vision.
“Talk about Obama’s record, criticize it if you will, but they have to offer a positive alternative,” she said. “I would focus on the Republican version of the future.”
- Watch the State of the Union live online through the White House’s webstream for an “enhanced” feed - see the data and charts that helped inform the President’s policy proposals.