January 27, 2010 |  by  |  Politics and Society  |  Share


Photo by jmtimages

Photo by jmtimages

This column discusses what President Obama will focus on in his State of the Union Address.

Barack Obama is set to make his first State of the Union Address tonight. Both critics and supporters will be watching carefully as the President attempts to downplay recent failures, extol his achievements and set the agenda for the next year.

Traditionally State of the Union addresses run for “45 minutes to 60 minutes” according to Anthony Popiel and Charles McLean, Federal Executive Fellows at the Brookings Institution [1]. However, these two authors suggest an alternative by urging the President to make a smaller speech which focuses on three main issues.

It is obvious that the primary focus of this speech will be on the staggering economy. The President knows that few Americans are aware of the small problems such as the withdrawal of some of his nominees due to various scandals. 

The President will naturally mention and reassure Americans on national security issues due to the attempted plane bombing, while vowing to continue the fight in Afghanistan. According to Tony Romm of The Hill’s, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has also mentioned that the President would touch on issues of immigration and the Federal Debt [2].

However, President Obama knows that if the economy is fixed, whether it be through his policies or the free market, all his past mistakes shall be forgiven and forgotten. Obama will lay down the agenda of job growth, supporting it using a tactic well known to his former counterpart, George W. Bush. He will use anecdotal examples to rally up support, in what he perceives as an attempt to remind Americans that their labor is still valued, and that creativity is flourishing in the midst of the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression.

At the end of the day, these examples can bring about warm feelings and fuzzy memories, but the magic of the President’s speech will wear off soon enough. The one thing that will determine whether Mr. Obama will be seen as Hoover or Roosevelt is simply this, the positive or negative numbers in regards to the economy, and not the number or quality of the words he uses tonight.

Works Cited

[1] Popiel, Anthony, and Charles McLean. “Keep it Simple, Mr. President: Advice for the State of the Union Address.”  (2010): n. pag. Web. 27 Jan 2010. <http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2010/0126_obama_recommendations_popiel_mclean.as px? utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed %3A+BrookingsRSS %2Fseries %2Fup_front+%28Brookings%3A+Series+- +Up+Front %29&utm_content=Google+Reader>. Brookings Institution

[2] Romm, Tony. “House GOP leaders to enter State of the Union address wth ‘open, not empty’ mind.” Hill (2010): n. pag. Web. 27 Jan 2010. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/78251-house-gop-leaders-to-enter-state-of-the-union-address-wth-open-not-empty-mind

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