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SOTU

What Obama Was Missing

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One of the best presidential orators in history, Obama was reduced to the lowly ambition of executive orders. What we really need is a set of common aims all Americans can work toward.

I prefer to burn candles rather than curse the dark. So, I say great. Let this indeed be a year of action. But, it’s going to take more than the president acting on his own, which now appears to be largely the course he has set for 2014.The irony of the State of the Union address these days is the inverse proportion of media coverage and saturation to public attention and expectation. It seems the more the media fixates and obsesses over every detail, the less attention the public pays and the less they expect anything will change.

State of the Union

Overlooked

Obama’s 34 Words That Matter Most

LARRY DOWNING

No one paid much attention when he said he would appeal for more help for young men of color, but those could prove the most important words of the State of the Union.

It may have been one of the most important lines in President Obama’s State of the Union address–and also the most overlooked. Between his remarks on education and a section on women’s rights, President Obama declared: “I'm reaching out to some of America's leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.” No one applauded–rare on a night when hands tend to clap after every cough and sneeze.

Team America

The Super Bowl State of the Union

The Daily Beast

By not once invoking America’s single greatest day of the year, POTUS missed some easy yardage.

I watched the State of the Union on Tuesday, and I don’t care what anybody says: I thought Biden did a stupendous job.  Emotional.  Passionate.  Animated.  If only the Leader of the Free World hadn’t spent so much time trying to upstage him.  As I see it, the Vice President even provided an important service with his mugging and ministrations; that is, if anyone happened to be watching with the sound off.  (Somewhere in South Africa, there’s a fake sign language interpreter saying, “Man, that guy is good.

Smile

Why Didn't Obama Tout the Economy?

Seth Wenig/AP

President Obama’s speech won’t change the country’s sour mood about jobs and the deficit, but America is coming back faster and stronger than anyone expected.

President Obama took the podium for last night’s State of the Union Address at a time when mood of the country is sour—toward the president and toward the economy.An objective look at the data and the record of the last several years suggests that this shouldn’t be the case.Historically speaking, presidents get credit for the positive economic news that happens on their watch and get blame for the bad things that happen—even when they are not entirely at fault.

Everyone’s a Critic

Responsapalooza to the SOTU

Larry Downing/Reuters

State of the union speeches are so packaged and slick that there’s no room for excitement. Reactions to the speech—now there’s where you’ll find drama.

I know it makes me a bad political journalist, but I have never liked the State of the Union address. Yeah. I know all the arguments for why we should love this overhyped annual media orgy: POTUS gets to strut his oratorical stuff, signal his priorities, run through his policy wish list, tweak the opposition, see how many times he can make his congressional team pop up for a standing ovation … And, sure enough, this year’s offering had a handful of nice moments: POTUS’s shout out to Boehner’s “barkeep” dad, his dig about Americans not wanting another 40 House votes to repeal Obamacare, Joe Biden’s constant face-making, and, of course, the closing tribute to wounded Army Ranger Cory Remsburg.

Highlights

Watch: Obama's 5 Best Moments

AFP/Getty

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.

AMERICA IS GROWING, BUT ONLY FOR A FEWAfter four years, things are great for the 1 percent and corporations, but that success isn’t trickling down, Obama said. If Obama’s first term was about getting America moving again, his second term is about getting the middle-class moving up. The president also promised to take executive action when and where he could, instead of constantly waiting for an embattled Congress to hash things out.TO HELL WITH CONGRESSIt’s been seven years since Congress raised the federal minimum wage, and Obama said he won’t wait another year.

Staying Open

New Gitmo Deadline? Long Shot.

Charles Dharapak/AP

In his State of the Union Speech, President Obama announced he wants to close Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by the end of the year. But that’s a deadline he's unlikely to meet.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union, President Obama again called for the closing of America’s prison at Guantanamo Bay, adding a new deadline—the end of 2014, when most U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan. But there’s little chance his deadline will be met.“With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” Obama said.  “Because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world.

War on Terror

Obama’s War On Terror Muddle

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

In 2012 President Obama touted America’s defeat of al Qaeda in his State of the Union in that election year. Two years later, al Qaeda is still very much alive. On Tuesday night, Obama tried to thread the needle between his desire to end the war on terror and to combat the threat posed by al Qaeda’s affiliates.The War on Terror was very different two years ago. Back then, during an election year and less than a year after the raid that killed al Qaeda’s leader and founder, Osama bin Laden, Obama said, “al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.

Read the Text of Obama's Speech

Charles Dharapak/AP

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.

SOTU

The Night of Broken Promises

Mark Wilson/Getty

The State of the Union address is always a long list of idealistic political projects. Looking back at Obama’s speech from last year shows just how little of it ever comes to pass.

The State of the Union is upon us, which means another round of new policies, proposals, and priorities from the president. Of course, that raises the question—what happened to the ideas in last year’s glorified listicle? By my count, the 2013 State of the Union had more than 20 discrete proposals, covering a wide variety of concerns, from income inequality and economic growth, to climate change and immigration, to foreign policy and education reform.

FEBRUARY 13, 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES

The Daily Beast's coverage of the 2013 State of the Union.

Complete coverage of the 2013 State of the Union.

Read it at The Daily Beast

DON’T SHOOT

One Redneck’s Gun Stand

Brennan Linsley/AP

Joe McLean loves his old Hawken hunting rifle. He’s defended himself with a firearm against a burglar. His dad was a great quail shot. But assault weapons? That’s absurd.

Listening to President Obama on Tuesday night, I was struck by how the debate on guns has changed. Born and raised on a cotton farm in deep-red Tennessee, a son of the South, I grew up hunting and fishing with my father, who was reputed to be the finest quail shot in Crockett County. As a younger man, I was forced to defend my home in the middle of the night with a firearm. The burglar was a career criminal, just out of prison after robbing a liquor store with a sawed-off shotgun.

Words

What’d You Think of the SOTU?

We asked Daily Beast readers for one-word reactions to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Here’s what you said.

President Obama delivered the first State of the Union of his second term Tuesday night, and by the looks of it, Daily Beast readers liked it.Shortly after the hourlong speech ended, we asked our Facebook fans for one-word reactions, and 1,174 of you weighed in. Using Tagxedo, an online application that converts text into word clouds, we arranged your responses into an America-shaped visual representation. (Keep in mind the geographical location of the words bears no meaning.

MAKE A JOKE

140 Characters of the Union

Pool photo by Charles Dharapak

Twitter was in its element Tuesday night during President Obama’s second State of the Union address, with strong voices both supporting and opposing his proposals. See The Daily Beast’s favorite tweets.

Rebuttal

Rubio Upstaged By Water Bottle

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

While hitting Obama on big government.

Opposing Obama sure can make you thirsty. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio delivered the GOP response to the president’s State of the Union on Tuesday night, attacking Obama on taxes and government spending—but Rubio earned instant Internet fame for taking a drink of water during the televised speech. Rubio's furtive sip became an instant meme (Deadspin has it here in extreme slow motion), and Rubio moved quickly to own it, tweeting a photo of the water bottle after the speech. Asked about the water break on Good Morning America, Rubio said “God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human.”

Read it at The Daily Beast

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