Opinion: Obama’s first State of the Union speech a dud? Two days before he reads it


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Except for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid‘s $787 billion economic stimulation, which is about a year old and a few hundred-thousand jobs short, having watched unemployment jump from 8% to 10%.


John F. Kennedy announced his presidential campaign on Jan. 3 of the election year. Bill Clinton announced his in October of the year before the presidential election. George W. Bush in July of the year before. And because his was such a clearly hopeless effort, Barack Obama announced his in February of the year before the Iowa caucuses in January of the year of the election.

All of which means two things: 1) Easter candy should be on remainder later this week and 2) we’re already getting reactions and predictions about Obama’s State of the Union speech, which is still being tweaked in the White House for Telepromptering Wednesday evening.

State of the Union speeches are, let’s be honest, PR wishlists enunciated on a....

...brightly-lit national TV stage. They are very important White House policy statements for several days, all the way through the next Sunday morning’s talk shows. And then, as Capt. Marvel used to put it so succinctly, shazam, 90% of what the chief executive pretended he was going to fight for, goes poof!

For instance, to combat his expanding image as a spending profligate, watch for Obama to propose some kind of tough-sounding spending curbs. And he’ll likely leak such tidbits in advance to have the eager media highlight them for him.

Here’s what Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander has to say, even before Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has the official GOP response:

To reconnect with the American people in his State of the Union address, creating jobs should be President Barack Obama’s first subject, reining in the national debt his second, and terrorism his third. Then, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit if he stopped his speech there and focused his unswerving attention until he has jobs, debt, and terror all headed in a better direction. After all, the president struggled in his first year not only because his agenda veered too far left, but because he took too many big bites of too many apples and tried to swallow them all at once.


Now, Costas Panagopoulos of Fordham University is already out with his analysis:

The economy will be featured as the front and center of the speech, but the President will be compelled to address health care and foreign policy concerns.Due to the Massachusetts election results, Obama’s administration had to rethink everything going forward in the week. I believe, Obama’s main focus right now is to try and prevent Democrats from becoming a blood-bath in November 2010.

Arianna Huffington has a warning for Obama: ‘By the end of the State of the Union speech on Wednesday, we’ll know just how serious the president is about his post-Massachusetts pivot to making jobs and the middle class his top priority.’

At least one Obama supporter here is publicly desperate before the speech.

In one of his now daily exclusive TV interviews, Obama tells ABC’s Diane Sawyer:

There is a tendency in Washington to believe our job description, of elected officials, is to get reelected. That’s not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people.

Obama adds: ‘I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.’

And a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll out this afternoon gives Republicans some hope they can help Obama out with that one-term part. In six days’ time a whopping 70% of Americans have decided that last week’s Massachusetts Senate election snatching away Democrats’ super-majority in that body is ‘good for the country.’

The percentage of Americans who think it’s good that Democrats control Congress is now 45%, down from 50% last summer. The percentage of Americans who think favorably and unfavorably about the Democratic party is now tied at 46%; in October, it was 53% favorable and only 41% unfavorable.

Americans who think unfavorably of Republicans has fallen from 54% in October to a statistical tie with favorables now at 44-45.

The good news for the Washington crowd is in Poll Question No. 11. About one-third of Americans aren’t angry at either party. Eleven percent are angry at Democrats, only 9% at the GOP.

However, the bipartisan bad news for Washington: fully 48% are angry at both parties.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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