Analyzing the State of the Union Address

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Did you watch President Obama’s State of the Union address last night? Here’s a roundup of articles and analysis that we found interesting this morning. In the comments section, share links to your favorite articles, as well as your thoughts about the speech, the president’s policy ideas and his priorities.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens at right as President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens at right as President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

In State of the Union, Obama Presents a Powerful Progressive Agenda
“In the first State of the Union address of his second term, President Barack Obama sent a clear signal: He will vigorously pursue an unambiguous progressive agenda in his final years as president. Universal preschool, boosting the minimum wage, passing gun-safety legislation—Obama delivered a left-of-center demand list for Congress and his administration.” David Corn, Mother Jones

The President’s Dream State
“When, at the emotional high point of the speech, Obama declared that ‘Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote,’ it wasn’t just a rhetorical flourish; he was alluding directly to the impasse and gridlock that defines Congress. When he promised to direct the Cabinet to ‘come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution and prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change,’ he was issuing a threat to Republicans: If you continue to needlessly block legislation, I will go around Congress and find other ways to implement my agenda.” Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect

How’d It Go?
“We were prepped to think this speech would be aggressive, confrontational, sharp, a shower of adjectives. My sense was a bit different. I found the tone aggressive, more declarative, less exploratory. The subtext was: I’ve made up my mind. And yet it was actually replete with references to potential points of bipartisan compromise — virtually every one he tried to strike over his first four years in office. The tone was simply different. I’d describe it like this: We can do this together. But if you won’t, whatever guys, I’m done with that.” Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Concealed Weapons
“President Obama never used the word drones in his State of the Union address. But drones were all over it. They’re the unspoken force that is shaping his agenda.

A minute into the speech, Obama reported, “After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home.” … Who’s coming home? Our people. Who’s taking their place? Machines. By outsourcing our global police work to remotely piloted aircraft, Obama was able to spend almost his entire speech talking about domestic challenges instead.” William Saletan, Slate

The Avoider
“Barack Obama’s fourth such address left a trail of foreign-policy cookie crumbs that lead directly to some pretty clear, if hardly surprising or revolutionary, conclusions. His first term contained no spectacular successes (save killing Osama bin Laden), but no spectacular failures either. And more than likely, that’s what the president will settle for in a second, even as the Arab world burns and rogues like Iran and North Korea brandish new weapons. He’s nothing if not a cautious man.” Aaron David Miller, Foreign Policy

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all of the considerate analysis. However, I believe the jury is still out on what Obama will do in his second term regarding foreign policy. I am sure he will be cautious, but I hope for greater accomplishments this term. I also think he has faced Iran and Korea straight on and his help in Libya was the right thing to do. Syria is another story; we may pay for that one.

  • JohnR

    The only reason real estte is up all over is because Wall Street is buying it, hoping to securitize the income stream from renters. Otherwise, I see nobody else buying and especially people who understand the “clouded title issues”. The Banks are still illegally foreclosing, they’re also holding back inventory for fear of crashing an otherwise horrible market. And to get a loan these days you have to have verified proof of your sainthood. As soon as he tried to make the point that Real Estate was back… the rest of the entire speech I took as just another lie.

  • Lainey Hashorva

    Where is the crackdown on Wall Street we were promised? Where is the justice for the harm done by the Banksters? That’s what most of us want that are still underemployed and trying to hold onto our homes.

  • Strawman411

    Pure theater. After all these years of politicians earnestly declaring one thing, then later quietly doing the opposite, I cannot understand why anyone gives these tent revivals any attention at all, other than, perhaps, as a measurement of how much worse it is getting.

    Here is Mr. Obama’s speech translated into realspeak: “I am playing your emotions like a cheap piano after which, in the shadows, we will continue serving our corporate masters, those of the financial oligarchy and of the bloated Security State.”

    Though it may need all of us out in the streets to accomplish it, the only hope for this democracy is to legislate (and enforce) money out of political campaigns.

  • Susan

    Pretty solid write up here – Lambert Strether and Yves Smith:

    War mongering (more money to manufacturing hubs with DOD and DOE, 4 more wars, energy policy still involves Keystone (so I don’t really mean any of this stuff about climate change), I’m gonna ramp up the surveillance state (I’ll be seeing you), a total side step on the economy (make more loans available – yeah, right – college debt is the next bubble and there’s no collateral to repo when it bursts). Poor guy. The corporations (for and not for profit) still have their boots on his neck.

  • ccaffrey

    Every time the President says the words, “…and play by the rules…” I want to ask him “Whose rules?” Although very pleasantly surprised at his mention of early child development as a priority, I was chilled when he doubled down on the Trans Pacific Partnership and said he wanted a Trans Atlantic Partnership too. Zero transparency, 600 corporate advisors, provisions to give corporations investor-state status able to sue governments whose regulations interfere with business! This is ALEC on steroids. We need to DEMAND transparency and accountability on this before it’s too late

  • 1000sparrows

    He is a fine human being proposing the best ideas we have. Help him, who ever you are.

  • Anonymous

    Now we have Teapublicans, Libertarians, and Progressives, and even Bill Moyers all determined to tear down Obama and his excellent agenda. What an unholy alliance of fools and political masochists!

  • Strawman411

    Exactly. And why hasn’t Mr. Moyers & Co. even once complimented the Emperor on his new wardrobe? Masochistic fools indeed.

  • lgfromillinois

    I have come to cynically believe that we will always get less from our politicians than we should receive because these politicans benefit from kowtowing to the powerful. Mr. Obama has good ideas but no path to implement them. He is more trapped in our dysfunctiional system than we are.