It’s the economy….still
by Liz Hester
President Barack Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday night. And yet again, the economy is the over-arching issue to the remarks he’ll make.
I wonder if he’s as tired of the malaise as the rest of us.
Here’s the preview from the Wall Street Journal:
Four times, President Barack Obama has stood in the well of the House of Representatives and delivered a State of the Union address—and four times, economic anxieties have largely overshadowed his efforts to push a broad agenda.
Tuesday night he makes his fifth such address—the State of the Union that will help define his second term. While the economy is improving and the mood in Washington is changing in significant ways, the story line isn’t all that different: A broader Obama agenda is fighting to break out, but the economy still hangs over all else.
To be sure, Mr. Obama has more on his mind: Immigration overhaul, gun control and climate change are the topics most discussed since his re-election. The president will say he plans a trip to the Middle East, putting him in the company of Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush, who all tried to crack the code on the Palestinian problem in a second term.
And yet White House officials are signaling that the core of the speech will focus on ways to spur the economy and job creation. Mr. Obama was criticized by Republicans for not making jobs the centerpiece of his second inaugural address last month; it appears he won’t leave himself open to that critique this time.
While he might have been criticized, I was excited to hear the president talk about something besides the economy in his inaugural address. Obviously, it’s extremely important and critical to everyone, especially those who are still unemployed. But there was a part of me that was happy to hear about that climate change, gun control laws and gay rights also had a part of his agenda.
The Financial Times chose to talk about the shift of his campaign organization to working on his domestic policy agenda.
Barack Obama’s state of the union speech has been previewed as a pivot back to the economy by a White House anxious over how the president’s inauguration address last month was portrayed as an unambiguously liberal manifesto.
But whatever the content of the speech, Mr Obama’s message will be carried by more than just words. Months after his re-election, the traditional set piece will be backed by Mr Obama’s formidable campaign machine, which has been resurrected and retooled to keep the millions of volunteers who helped him win last November active.
“He really wants to apply this new revolutionary capacity to communicate to further his agenda,” said Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate majority leader and longtime supporter of Mr Obama.
Now called Organising for America, it was launched last month under the leadership of Jim Messina, Mr Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, as a non-profit body with the ability to take in unlimited donations.
Already, OFA has been reviving tactics it used during the campaign, from organising neighbourhood parties where supporters can gather to watch the speech to rousing activists on issues like guns and immigration.
And on-hand to hear the plans first hand will be Ted Nugent, according to the New York Times.
Ted Nugent, the gun-loving, bow-hunting rocker whose staunch defense of Second Amendment rights and inflammatory insults of President Obama have made him a hero with many conservatives, will attend the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Mr. Nugent, who is also a National Rifle Association board member, will be a guest of Representative Steve Stockman, a Texas Republican who recently made headlines by threatening to file articles of impeachment against Mr. Obama if the president issued executive orders that strengthened gun control laws.
In a telephone interview from his ranch in Texas on Monday, Mr. Nugent said that he planned to sit in the House of Representatives gallery during the president’s speech and that he would hold a news conference afterward, an event that seemed likely to turn the decorous setting of the State of the Union into a tabloid spectacle.
Well, it might not be a three-ring circus, but it will definitely be entertaining. And hopefully it will be inspiring as well. Goodness knows that after four years, everyone is looking for some better economic news.