Conspicuously absent from Obama’s State of the Union was any mention of Guantánamo Bay or the 166 detainees still stuck there. Eli Lake reports on the president’s broken promise.
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.
People queue to cast their ballots at a polling station in Washington, DC on November 6, 2012. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/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. The GOP strategy on this actually stands a chance of fooling a considerable portion of the American public, unless Obama uses tonight’s stage to expose its dishonesty and paint the GOP into a corner with specifics.
President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (left) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his State of the Union address on January 24, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty)
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.
(L-R) NSC Executive Secretary Nate Tibbits, Former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama, and Presidential Speechwriter Cody Keenan as they edit his remarks before addressing an audience at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., Feb. 10, 2011. (Pete Souza /Landov (file))
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.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during the Reagan Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
As Republican rep's guest.
In the eyes of gun-rights advocates, Rep. Steve Stockman will have one of the hottest dates at Tuesday night's State of the Union address: Ted Nugent. Each member of Congress is allowed to bring one guest to the president's annual speech, and the Republican from Texas is "excited" to have gun-loving rocker Ted Nugent as his. Gun control is expected to be the hot topic of discussion Tuesday, and more than 20 Democrats have already confirmed that they're bringing victims of gun violence as their guests. Nugent says he will attend the speech, but that he won't be packing heat: "I live a well-armed life, and I’ve got to demilitarize before I go," Nugent said. Nugent was interviewed by the Secret Service last year after he said that he'd be “either be dead or in jail by this time next year” if Obama got reelected.
Should Obama come out swinging or edge toward the center? Either way, it’s his last chance to lecture a captive audience before drastic spending cuts kick in.
President Obama heads into Tuesday’s State of the Union speech with a crippling sequester looming, and the tone he takes toward his adversaries could determine whether automatic cuts in spending will follow less than three weeks later. Will he follow the fighting tone of his second inaugural? How combative will he get in urging Congress to come up with a plan to avert the sequester, and how directly will he blame the Republicans for the current impasse?
The SOTU is a night for highlighting partisan differences, as lawmakers take turns standing and clapping or sitting and scowling based on the policies that separate them. With the advent of the Tea Party and record deficits, the two parties have rarely been more bitterly divided than they are under Obama. Even so, former Clinton budget chief Alice Rivlin says Obama should return to the tone of his ’08 campaign, when he said, naively, she concedes, that he came to Washington to change the tone. “It hasn’t worked very well, but this is the moment to go back to it, because if he doesn’t, he dooms the rest of his term to squabbling with the Republicans.”
The president pivoted from deficit reduction to increasing demand—with a call for a higher minimum wage, says Daniel Gross.
In response to Obama, Marco Rubio put a nonscary (and nonwhite) face on the GOP, seemingly battling dry mouth in his reach for water, says Michelle Cottle.
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.
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.