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State of the Union

FLOTUS FAVORITES

It’s Wu Again for First Lady!

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Michelle Obama stepped out for the State of the Union address in a black and crimson dress by Jason Wu, who is shaping up to be her very own Oleg Cassini.

And Jason Wu takes the FLOTUS prize again. It may have taken nearly two hours to identify the designer of Michelle Obama’s State of the Union attire on Tuesday night, but post-speech, the news came that Wu was the creator of the First Lady’s shimmering cocktail dress. Around 9pm, Obama emerged in the House of Representatives wearing an empire-waist oxblood and black A-line dress made of a tweed fabric, which she accessorized with an Alexis Bittar floral pin and still-intact bangs.

GUN CONTROL

‘They Deserve a Vote’

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The president enlisted victims and survivors of tragedies like Newtown and Aurora to put a human face on his powerful and effective appeal for action on gun violence, says Eleanor Clift.

Emotion matters in politics, and President Obama drew on an ample well of it in the service of his proposals to curb gun violence. Seated in first lady Michelle Obama’s box were powerful symbols of the nation’s ongoing struggle with guns. There was a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 first graders and six teachers were gunned down, a police officer who took a dozen bullets when he was first on the scene to confront a shooter at a Sikh temple, and the parents of a Chicago teenager gunned down in a park just a mile from Obama’s house—days after she performed in his inaugural parade.

State of the Union Fact Check

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Is Congress really to blame for the looming sequester? Has manufacturing really shot up under President Obama? The Daily Beast sifts through the Internet’s best fact checks to assess the State of the Union claims.

Tuesday night, President Obama said the state of the union is strong. But how strong were all of his claims? Let’s take a look at what the Internet’s best fact checkers have to say about the President’s speech.“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”President Obama isn’t exactly innocent in allowing the cap-and-trade legislation backed by McCain and Lieberman to die out, Politico clarifies.

State of the Union

The Immigration Reform Moment

Scott Olson/Getty

In his State of the Union address, the president backed away from policy prescriptions and used GOP rhetoric on immigration. He—and the lawmakers key to legislative success—know now’s the time to push a reform deal through.

President Obama is at a moment of maximum political leverage. But for all the bipartisan framing of his State of the Union speech, the basic fact of divided government makes legislative progress difficult.Immigration reform is the great exception. Six years after President Bush tried and failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform with odd-couple senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain, both parties have recognized that now is the time to get it done.

State of the Union

The Voters Rubio Ignored

Mark Wilson/Getty

Republicans have long failed to acknowledge the injustice faced by blacks, gays, and Latinos—which is what Marco Rubio did in his response to the president’s speech, says Peter Beinart.

To understand why Democrats are doing better than Republicans in an America that less and less resembles an episode of Father Knows Best, just compare President Obama’s State of the Union address with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s response. Rubio flaunted his immigrant and working-class roots, but biography aside, he told the same story about America that the GOP has been telling for decades.In Rubio’s depiction, America is a wondrous place where capitalism allows everyone to get ahead, and the only major external obstacle to upward mobility is an overbearing federal government.

SOTU Response

Rubio Was Winsome

Getty

Rubio put a kind, nonscary (and nonwhite) face on a party dealing with an image problem—and seemed to have dry mouth with his reach for water. The Tea Party’s Paul was edgier and feistier with remarks that will please his base, says Michelle Cottle.

Thematically, Tuesday night’s dueling responses from Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were pretty much the same: Obama is all about Big Government, and Big Government is Bad.Both Republicans touched on—and agreed upon—many of the same issues: They both embraced immigrants. They both plugged school vouchers. And of course they both decried Washington’s free-spending ways. They argued for (and against) pretty much what you’d expect.Paul, also unsurprisingly, took things farther than Rubio, getting all worked up about executive overreach and government transparency, and the possible need to “sweep the place clean.

Watch This!

Best Moments From Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

Pool photo by Charles Dharapak

The president offered real talk on climate change, called for tax and entitlement reforms and a minimum-wage hike, and urged action on gun violence in his fourth State of the Union address. WATCH VIDEO.

Time for ReformAfter a seemingly endless round of standing ovations, President Obama began his State of the Union address on a positive note. “After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over 6 million new jobs,” he announced, applauding the housing, stock, and home markets for rebounding during tough economic times. He stressed passing a bipartisan tax and entitlement reform that keeps things moving upward.

State of the Union

Obama Pivots Left on Economy

Charles Dharapak/AP

The president pivoted from deficit reduction to increasing demand—with a surprising call for a higher minimum wage.

What does it take for a Democratic president to start talking like a Democrat about economic issues? Two big presidential election wins, apparently. For when it comes to economics, President Obama delivered a center-left speech for a center-left economic country.When Obama delivered his State of the Union in previous years, the economy was in deep recession (2009), starting to dig out (2010), and muddling along in very low gear (2011 and 2012).

CISPA Strikes Back?

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Read the president’s executive order and policy directive on cybersecurity.

RSVP

Friended by the First Lady

Susan Walsh/AP

How do you snag a seat next to Michelle Obama during tonight’s big speech? Be a walking manifestation of the president’s agenda.

Wonder what issues President Obama will focus on during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address? Look no further than the first family’s personal guest list.Ever since Lenny Skutnik, who rescued an air-crash victim from the Potomac River, was invited to sit with Nancy Reagan during her husband’s 1982 State of the Union address, the seats in the first lady’s chamber have often been given to ordinary citizens whom the president either wants to honor—or use to demonstrate the real-life implications of policy proposals.

Join Us

State of the Union 2013: Daily Beast Live Chat!

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Chat live with The Daily Beast’s team of political columnists as we watch President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union. We’ll kick things off Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. E.T.

The Daily Beast’s whip-smart team of political columnists will be here this Tuesday a touch after 8:30 p.m. E.T. to chat while we watch President Obama's 2013 State of the Union. Join John Avlon, Michelle Cottle, Mark McKinnon, Michael Tomasky, Howard Kurtz, and your fellow Beast readers in the chat box below.

State of the Union

The Reform Obama Can’t Forget

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

It may not be an election year, but Tuesday’s State of the Union is the perfect time for the president to embrace reforms to forestall another Election Day disaster of long lines, botched registrations, and lost ballots.

In his stirring inaugural address, President Obama linked the civil rights struggles at Selma to the continuing chaos of America’s elections today. “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote,” the president said.Soaring sentiments, powerfully expressed. But what can be done about it? In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the president should embrace reforms to ease long lines and avoid Election Day disasters.

Get 'Em

SOTU Advice: Hammer the GOP

Mark Wilson/Getty

Obama needs to expose the GOP’s fiscal dishonesty in his State of the Union, says Michael Tomasky.

Barack Obama has a lot of work to do in tonight’s State of the Union address. He has to go over the heads of recalcitrant Republicans and cowardly Democrats and make a case to the American people on his gun-control measures. He has to do something similar, although it’s not quite as high a hurdle, on immigration reform. He has to make the cases for his defense and intelligence nominees. And more. But job No. 1 seems pretty clear to me: frame the debate about the sequester and the budget.

SOTU Frenzy

Meet Obama’s New Lead Speechwriter

Pete Souza /Landov (file)

With Jon Favreau headed for Hollywood, Cody Keenan is stepping up as the president’s new chief speechwriter—just in time for Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Eleanor Clift reports on the Chicago native.

Cody Keenan, one of seven speechwriters to join the White House staff when President Obama took office in 2009, toiled in relative obscurity until 2011. That’s when his breakthrough came with the president’s speech at a Tucson memorial honoring victims of gun violence. The address won praise for its healing tone and revealed a skill with words and emotion that the 32-year-old Keenan is employing in a very different arena as the lead speechwriter on Obama’s Tuesday evening State of the Union address.

Watch Out, Rubio

The SOTU Response Curse

Jae C. Hong/AP

Following the president just as 40 million or so Americans reach for the remote is a tough task, writes Michelle Cottle.

In the run up to every State of the Union address, a favorite Beltway parlor game is to obsess over every aspect of the speech: what the president will say, what he should say, what guests he’ll invite, and on and on.  It is, if not much ado about nothing, certainly much ado about what is, ultimately, just a political speech.And after all the anticipation and handicapping and hyperventilating and melodramatic commentary, and after 40 million or so Americans watch as the president delivers it, some poor schmuck from the other team must follow up the grand spectacle with an official response.

Full Coverage

THE BIG SPEECH

Read the Text of Obama's Speech

Read the Text of Obama's Speech

SOTU

What Obama Was Missing

Staying Open

New Gitmo Deadline? Long Shot.

Watch This!

Obama's 5 Best Moments

Watch: Obama's 5 Best Moments

Watch: Obama's 5 Best Moments

President Obama's State of the Union touched on income inequality, Obamacare, his determination to talk to Iran, and the courage of a soldier. See the highlights.

130207-Lake-Guantanamo-tease

Obama’s War On Terror Muddle

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Barack Obama sent mixed messages on the threat presented by Al Qaeda.

Friends of Michelle

Inside the Guest List

Friended by the First Lady

Friended by the First Lady

How do you snag a seat next to Michelle Obama at the State of the Union? Be a walking manifestation of the president’s agenda.

Boehner: Bored And Bothered

Speaker John Boehner could barely be bothered to stand up and clap, let alone shake the grimace from his face during the State of the Union.

  1. Obama's Impassioned Anti-Gun Appeal Play

    Obama's Impassioned Anti-Gun Appeal