January 25, 2011: President Obama Gives 2011 State of the Union Address

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

2011 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

  • White House — State of the Union 2011
  • State of the Union – NYT
  • State of the Union — Washington Post
  • Factchecker: Analysis of the speech
  • Who Sat Where: The State of the Union Seating Chart: Many lawmakers broke the tradition of sitting with their own parties at the State of the Union address. – NYT, 1-26-11
  • Patterns of Speech: 75 Years of the State of the Union Addresses: In 2010, President Obama was the first modern president to use the words “bubble,” “supermajority” and “obesity” in a State of the Union speech. But other words have a longer history. Below, a historical look at the number of times presidents have used selected words in their State of the Union addresses (or analogous speeches) from 1934 to 2010…. – NYT
  • Live Blog: State of the Union Remarks ReleasedNYT, 1-25-11
  • The State of the Union and You: On Tuesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol. We have been working on a number of ways citizens can get involved in the State of the Union and ask their questions of President Obama and senior Administration officials. You can find all the details on the brand new State of the Union page.
    Here’s the lineup of events next week. Be sure to tune in to watch the speech live at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and find a way get involved.
    Tuesday at 9 PM: Live Stream of the State of the Union Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on WhiteHouse.gov.
    Tuesday Immediately After the Speech: Open for Questions Immediately following the State of the Union Address, stay tuned for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech live from the White House…. – WH, 1-21-11

THE HEADLINES….

     

  • Obama’s ‘Union’: ‘Move together or not at all’: Pleading for unity in a newly divided government, President Barack Obama implored Democratic and Republican lawmakers to rally behind his vision of economic revival for an anxious nation, declaring in his State of the Union address Tuesday night: “We will move forward together or not at all.”… – AP, 1-25-11
  • Obama: ‘The future is ours to win’: President Obama sought to rouse the nation from complacency in his State of the Union address Tuesday, urging innovation and reforms that he said are vital to keep the United States a global leader…. – WaPo, 1-26-11
  • FACT CHECK: Obama and his imbalanced ledger: The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other…. – AP, 1-26-11
  • Obama Sees Global Fight for U.S. Jobs: President Obama called on Tuesday night for Americans to unleash their creative spirits, set aside their partisan differences and come together around a common goal of out-competing other nations in a rapidly shifting global economy. In a State of the Union address to a newly divided Congress, Mr. Obama outlined what his advisers called his “plan to win the future” — a blueprint for spending in key areas, like education, high-speed rail, clean-energy technology and high-speed Internet to help the United States weather the unsettling impact of globalization and the challenge from emerging powers like China and India.
    But at the same time he proposed deficit-cutting measures, including a five-year freeze in spending on some domestic programs. He laid out a philosophy of a government that could be more efficient but is still necessary if the nation is to address fundamental challenges at home and abroad. Over the next decade, he said, his approach would reduce the deficit by $400 billion.
    His message seemed intended to elevate his presidency above the bare-knuckled legislative gamesmanship that defined the first two years of his term. With one eye toward his 2012 re-election campaign, he made the case that the nation had at long last emerged from economic crisis and could now confront longer-term issues. And after taking on an identity among many voters as a big-government liberal, he sought to reclaim the positioning he rode to the presidency in 2008, as postpartisan, pragmatic leader.
    “At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election,” Mr. Obama said. “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.”
    The speech was light on new policy proposals, reflecting both political and fiscal restraints on the administration after two years in which it achieved substantial legislative victories but lost the midterm elections, failed to bring the unemployment rate below 9 percent and watched the budget deficit rise sharply…. – NYT, 1-25-11
  • State of the Union: Obama’s salmon joke makes a splash: The president’s snappy one-liner about fishy bureaucracy breaks up a sometimes plodding State of the Union address. Twitter users and armchair commentators eagerly take the bait.
    President Obama broke up a sometimes plodding State of the Union address Tuesday night with a snappy one-liner about excessive bureaucracy.
    “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” he quipped. “And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”… – LAT, 1-26-11
  • Obama Counters G.O.P. With Plan to Extend Spending Freeze: By proposing a two-year extension to the three-year domestic spending freeze he called for a year ago, President Obama sought to quickly counter Republican demands for deeper cuts to shrink government and reduce annual budget deficits…. – NYT, 1-26-11
  • Obama touts steps to support military families: President Barack Obama is announcing new government-wide initiatives to support military families, including programs aimed at preventing suicide and eliminating homelessness…. – AP, 1-25-11
  • Obama Seeks Bipartisan Effort to Curb Debt, Invest in Education, Internet: President Barack Obama, saying “the future is ours to win,” urged Congress to invest in education, high-speed rail and Internet access while warning that the nation risks being buried under a mountain of debt.
    In his annual State of the Union address, Obama stressed that Americans are turning a corner on the worst recession since the Great Depression and bringing troops home from wars on two fronts. He challenged a divided Congress to put partisanship and divisiveness behind and “do big things.” “Sustaining the American dream has never been about standing pat,” Obama said in his 62-minute speech to a joint session of Congress. “It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.”… – Bloomberg, 1-26-11
  • State of the Union: Republicans say it’s business as usual: They dismiss Obama’s State of the Union address as a push for another round of federal spending. Rep. Paul Ryan formally rebuts the speech with calls for spending cuts…. – LAT, 1-26-11
  • Republicans clamor for spending cuts: The nation faces a crushing burden of debt and is on course for an economic disaster without dramatic action to wrestle the budget deficit under control, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Tuesday in the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
    And such spending cuts must start immediately as the price of getting GOP conservatives to cast a painful vote to increase the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills this spring, Ryan said.
    “Our nation is approaching a tipping point. We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century,” Ryan said in televised remarks. “The days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first,” Ryan added.
    Ryan is the point man in the new House GOP majority’s drive to rein in spending and bring the budget closer to balance. Tuesday’s speech was the highest profile assignment yet for a wonky former congressional staff aide who has evolved into one of his party’s brightest stars…. – AP, 1-26-11
  • Two G.O.P. Responses Point to Potential Fault Lines: The crosscurrents inside the Republican Party were on fresh display Tuesday evening with the unusual sight of two lawmakers delivering responses to the State of the Union address. In the party’s official reply, which immediately followed President Obama’s speech, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the country faced “a crushing burden of debt.” He vowed that Republicans, after assuming control of the House this year, would honor their pledge to provide Americans “a better choice and a different vision.”
    “Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified — especially when it comes to spending,” Mr. Ryan said, striking a conciliatory tone as he vowed to work with the president to find cuts. “So hold all of us accountable.”
    But Mr. Ryan, who was designated by Speaker John A. Boehner to respond to the president, did not have the last word. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who founded the Tea Party Caucus last year, gave a response of her own in a message to the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups of activists.
    “For two years,” Ms. Bachmann said, “President Obama made promises, just like the ones we heard him make this evening, yet still we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.”… – NYT, 1-26-11
  • Bachmann’s Speech Will Push Tea Party Goals: It is a Washington tradition that on the night the president gives his annual address to Congress, a member of the opposition gives a formal response. Tonight, there will be a response to the response. Representative Michele Bachmann, who has styled herself as the leader of the Tea Party movement within the House, plans to give her own rebuttal to President Obama’s speech following the official reply given by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Budget Committee…. – NYT, 1-25-11
  • State of the Union as homecoming dance: Who went with whom?: What started out as an earnest symbol of bipartisan unity — Republicans and Democrats sitting together at Tuesday’s State of the Union address turned into. . . an “After School Special” about bipartisan unity. Sen. Mark Udall first proposed the idea of crossing the aisle because, he said, the SOTU had become “like a high school pep rally.” (With “you lie!” instead of “rah rah!” and mandatory standing O’s instead of cheerleader pyramids) This year it was like. . . well, a second-grade Valentine exchange, or the homecoming dance? The endless hype — who asked who? who got dissed? — played out over a couple days of tweets, press releases, cutesy cable-news stand-ups and strategic leaks, creating the illusion for Washington’s chattering class that something historic was happening. Guess what, guys? No one’s going to care tomorrow…. – WaPo, 1-26-11
  • Obama State of the Union: Spending, but restraint: Trying to lift the nation and his own political fortunes, President Barack Obama on Tuesday sought to promote a jobs agenda blending concentrated spending and a fresh bid to control the country’s staggering debt. He faced a more skeptical and divided Congress and an electorate demanding results in an economy-heavy State of the Union address…. AP, 1-25-11
  • Factbox: Foreign policy issues Obama may address in speech: oreign policy seldom makes headlines in the State of the Union speech but President Barack Obama cannot avoid it with U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan and American diplomats trying, with no obvious success, to curb nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea… – Reuters, 1-25-11
  • Obama challenges Republicans on cuts, spending: President Barack Obama will challenge Republicans Tuesday to adopt limited spending cuts and invest in new research and education to generate a job-creating “Sputnik moment” for America in a speech designed to revitalize his leadership.
    Obama, seeking to assure Americans weary of 9.4 percent unemployment and fearful of rising debt, was to lay out his plan to reinvigorate economic growth in a State of the Union address at 9 p.m.
    At the midpoint of his four-year term and now preparing for his 2012 re-election campaign, Obama will seek to strike a centrist tone and say that what’s at stake is “not who wins the next election.” “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded,” he will say, according to White House excerpts…. – Reuters, 1-25-11
  • Ryan Is Republican Point Man House Budget Chairman Will Deliver Rebuttal to Obama, Craft Spending Cuts: When Rep. Paul Ryan delivers the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, many viewers will get their first look at a man whom GOP leaders are trusting to manage a central policy issue—how to cut the federal budget—that could shape the party’s image for years…. – WSJ, 1-24-11
  • Obama’s speech will expose partisan divide on spending: President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech will emphasize “winning the future” for America by strengthening the nation’s ability to compete in a changing world, according to White House talking points provided Monday by a Democratic source. Tuesday night’s annual speech to Congress, a nationally televised event considered the president’s biggest address of the year, brings together the three branches of government for an assessment of where America stands and where it is heading.
    “The president will lay out a plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world,” said the White House talking points. “He will talk about the need to take responsibility for our deficits, by investing only in what makes America stronger and cutting what doesn’t, and reforming our government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century.”… – CNN, 1-24-11
  • State of the Union: It’s the economy, again: Standing before a nation clamoring for jobs, President Barack Obama will call for targeted spending to boost the economy but also for budget cutting in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, his first in a new era of divided political power.
    To a television audience in the tens of millions, Obama will home in on jobs, the issue of most importance to the public and to his hopes for a second term. Though war and other concerns bid for attention, the president has chosen to lean heavily on the economy, with far less emphasis on Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and foreign affairs.
    Specifically, Obama will focus on improving the education, innovation and infrastructure of the United States as the way to provide a sounder economic base. He will pair that with calls to reduce the government’s debt — now topping a staggering $14 trillion — and reforming government. Those five areas will frame the speech, with sprinklings of fresh proposals.
    Yet no matter how ambitious Obama’s rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality…. – AP, 1-24-11
  • Obama to Press Centrist Agenda in His Address: President Obama will outline an agenda for “winning the future” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit.
    “My No. 1 focus,” he said, “is going to be making sure that we are competitive, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.”
    “These are big challenges that are in front of us,” Mr. Obama also said in the video, sent to members of Organizing for America, his network of supporters from the 2008 campaign. “But we’re up to it, as long as we come together as a people — Republicans, Democrats, independents — as long as we focus on what binds us together as a people, as long as we’re willing to find common ground even as we’re having some very vigorous debates.”… -
    NYT, 1-23-11
  • Tensions rise between Supreme Court, politicians: The moment lasted about 20 seconds. But its political reverberations have endured for a year and exemplify today’s knotty confluence of law, politics and public perception.
    At last year’s State of the Union speech Jan. 27, with six Supreme Court justices in attendance, President Obama denounced a recent campaign-finance ruling, saying it reversed a century of precedent and warning that it would “open the floodgates” for corporate spending on elections. Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true.” That tense moment has been viewed on youtube.com more than 650,000 times in the past year. It was singularly controversial but not the only headline-grabbing interaction between members of the political branches and the Supreme Court in the past twelve months.
    A series of events, most recently Justice Antonin Scalia’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to Tea Party members, has made clear that against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized Washington and the 24-hour media frenzy, interactions between justices and the two elected branches have become more politicized…. – USA Today, 1-24-11
  • State of Union Near, Republicans Draw Line on Spending: Congressional Republicans, seeking to recapture the debate over the country’s economic recovery in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address, warned Sunday that they would oppose any new spending initiatives and press ahead with their plans for budget cuts in every realm of government, including the military…. – NYT, 1-23-11
  • State of the Union speech to focus on jobs: Obama: President Barack Obama said on Saturday he would use his annual State of the Union address to urge both parties to act to lift U.S. growth and create more jobs.
    “My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” he said in a video e-mailed to members of his Organizing for America grassroots movement.
    Obama’s speech on Tuesday to a joint session of the U.S. Congress will show how he plans to rise above the political gridlock that marked his first two years in the White House, shaping his 2012 re-election prospects…. – Reuters, 1-22-10
  • Obama touts U.S. innovation in State of the Union preview: In his weekly address, Obama hails American economic potential and efforts to ‘win the future.’ In their response, Republicans focus on the repeal of the healthcare overhaul law.
    President Obama hailed the economic potential of increased American exports and green technology Saturday, previewing themes expected to be at the heart of his second State of the Union address Tuesday night. In his weekly address, Obama referred to Wednesday’s state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his own trip to a General Electric plant in New York on Friday as examples of how innovation and opening new overseas markets to American products will help “win the future.”
    “Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn’t discourage us,” he said. “We just have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America’s economy.”
    Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a doctor, pressed the Democrats who still control the Senate to bring a repeal bill up for a vote in the chamber. “We are now one step closer to victory in the fight for a healthcare policy that puts Americans first — not Washington,” he said. “Our job won’t be done until we repeal and replace this bad law.”… – LAT, 1-22-10
  • A ‘state of the union’ fight ahead over US government spending: How furiously to cut government spending is likely to be a major point of departure between Obama, who gives the State of the Union address on Tuesday, and congressional Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 1-22-10
  • Obama’s economic agenda: Boost US competitiveness: Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama will put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation’s soaring debt.
    Obama hopes this framework will woo Republicans as he searches for success in a divided Congress and will sway a wary private sector to hire and spend money it’s held back. The economy is on firmer footing than when he took office two years ago, and his emphasis on competitiveness signals a shift from policies geared toward short-term stabilization to ones with steady and long-term growth in mind.
    Obama will speak to a Congress shaken by the attempted assassination of one of their own. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head two weeks ago during an event in her district in Tucson, Ariz.
    The president has appealed for more civility in politics, and in a nod to that ideal, some Democrats and Republicans will break with tradition and sit alongside each other in the House chamber Tuesday night during a joint session of Congress…. – AP, 1-22-10
  • In this year’s State of Union, seating could blur party lines: Flash-forward now to the Congress of today, the Era of I-Hate-Your-Guts-And-Want-To-Rip-Your-Lungs-Out-You- Unpatriotic-Jerk. Weary of a climate that has grown so toxic that Congress should earmark money for a political Hazmat team, some lawmakers have a solution. When President Barack Obama comes to Capitol Hill Tuesday night to deliver the State of Union speech to a joint session of Congress, Democrats and Republicans should sit together, not in opposing camps of red and blue. The opposing camps idea has been the tradition since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became the first president since Thomas Jefferson to personally deliver the annual speech to Congress…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • Obama’s Tuesday speech to stress economy, civility: President Barack Obama, midway through his term and mindful of positioning himself for next year’s re-election campaign, will use the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to recast himself to voters and regain the confidence of centrists and independents. Expect the economy to serve as the major focus of the speech, both short-term job creation and his plans for long- term stability, with a secondary theme being a call for civility and compromise.
    “The great majority of the speech will be on the steps that the president believes our country has to take to continue that economic recovery,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • GOP taps Paul Ryan to give rebuttal to Obama’s speech: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a rising Republican star who’s stirred controversy with his approach to budget-cutting, will give the GOP response Tuesday to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The choice is aimed at showcasing the commitment of Republicans, who earlier this month took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years, to deficit reduction.
    Previous Republican responses to Obama’s State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
    Ryan, 39, a seventh-term Wisconsin Republican, is known for his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for “personal retirement accounts.”
    In addition, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of the tea party movement, will deliver a separate reaction to Obama’s speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups. The broadcast, following Obama and Ryan, will be broadcast on live streaming video at http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org or at http://www.TeaPartyHD.com…. – Miami Herald, 1-21-11
  • Scenarios: Possible themes in Obama’s State of Union speech: President Barack Obama faces a new political reality when he gives his State of the Union address on Tuesday: greater Republican power in Congress that will hamper his ability to make sweeping policy proposals. So the president, a Democrat, will make an even greater attempt to highlight areas of common ground with the opposition party on areas that are priorities for both sides such as boosting the economy and reducing the deficit. Here are a few potential areas he may touch upon…. – Reuters, 1-21-11

QUOTES

     

  • Text Obama’s Second State of the Union: Following is the transcript for President Obama’s second State of the Union address on Tuesday, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-25-11Mp3 Download
  • Text The Republican Response: Following is the prepared remarks of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was expected to give the official Republican response to President Obama’s second State of the Union address, as released by the House speaker’s office… – NYT, 1-25-11
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama — As Prepared for Delivery: …Now, by itself, this simple recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.
    I believe we can. I believe we must. That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all — for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.
    At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.
    We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.
    But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.
    That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together.
    We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.
    But we have more work to do. The steps we’ve taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession — but to win the future, we’ll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making…. READ MORE
  • Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader on “Fox News Sunday.”: “With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night. This is not a time to be looking at pumping up government spending in very many areas.”

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

     

  • Beverly Gage: Obama was supposed to be the “new FDR.” (Remember that Time magazine cover in 2008, complete with Obama holding a long Rooseveltian cigarette?) And certain aspects of his speech echo FDR’s New Deal agenda, such as the call for public works and infrastructure development. But FDR grew more radical on economic issues during his first term, culminating in the passage of Social Security and the Wagner labor relations act in 1935. With this speech, Obama is deliberately moving in the opposite direction. Cases in point: his call to lower the corporate tax rate and to freeze federal spending (though, one should note, FDR did gesture toward balancing the budget). Still, the two men do share at least one overarching characteristic: groping toward the middle. In Roosevelt’s case, that meant finding a path that would save the U.S. from fascism on one side and communism on the other. By comparison, Obama’s job should be simple. But FDR had one advantage that Obama may never see again: a unified and supportive Democratic Congress.
    So it turns out that Obama isn’t FDR. He’s Dwight Eisenhower, worried about Sputnik. Obama’s call for investment in science and higher education is vital, given the desperate state of Sputnik-era educational jewels like the University of California system. But it’s worth remembering, when we make these historical analogies, what much of that earlier round of Cold War investment was really about: military supremacy over the Soviet Union. It remains to be seen if Obama can muster the political capital for that scale of investment absent a pressing Cold-War-style military threat. – PBS Newshour, 1-26-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Kumbaya Congress a sham?: Obviously, sitting together is just a small symbolic act that is unlikely to do much about polarization in Washington. But it is unclear why Broun would want to attack a symbolic act that both sides have called for. At several points, Republicans have turned calls for civility into claims that Democrats are unfairly attacking the GOP. This won’t sit well with the independent voters whom the party will need in 2012. Better they should focus on the very real policy disputes that exist between the parties
  • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Kumbaya Congress a sham?: Civility in politics has to start somewhere, and a little neighborliness in the halls of Congress seems like a good place to begin. Even if Rep. Broun is right about there somehow being nefarious motives behind the invitations for Democrats and Republicans to sit together, the Republic – and the Republicans – can survive granting the president of the United States a respectful reception at his State of the Union address.
  • Julian E. Zelizer: What Obama can learn from Clinton, Reagan: Many political analysts are urging President Obama to give a State of the Union Address that is conciliatory toward Republicans and that acknowledges that voters are unhappy with the direction of his policies.
    Ever since he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts in a compromise with Republicans, his poll numbers have been improving, and Obama has filled several key positions in his administration with moderate Democrats. There is reason to think that the president will continue this path….
    He can use this opportunity to answer some of the big questions surrounding his presidency. He can explain how and when the government can solve certain problems better then markets. He can explain to Americans how his health care bill will help contain costs for citizens. He can share with the country how he balances concerns over the deficit with the need to stimulate the economy and what exactly is the path he envisions toward a stronger economy.
    By tackling these and other questions, Obama has to use this opportunity to explain himself and his presidency, providing voters a stronger understanding of who he is and what policies he will defend as he enters into discussion with a Republican House…. – CNN, 1-24-11
  • ‘State of the Union’ Could Mark Turning Point for Obama, Historian Says: President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address comes at a critical moment in his presidency and could set the tone in Washington for years to come, says a presidential historian at the University of Indianapolis. This won’t be the first State of the Union delivered amid economic woes and stiff partisan opposition, Associate Professor Edward “Ted” Frantz says. Previous examples include Bill Clinton in 1995, Ronald Reagan in 1983 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1935.
    “The fundamental challenge for Roosevelt was getting business interests to trust him, and they never did,” Frantz says. In that case, however, Roosevelt was able to continue his New Deal economic reforms with the help of large Democratic majorities in Congress, an advantage Obama does not have…. – Newswise, 1-24-11
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