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Jan 28, 2010 9:36 am


President Obama Gives First State of the Union Address



The President gives the State of the Union Address

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Live Blogging the President's Address - NYT, 1-27-10
  • FACT CHECK: Obama and the 'hatchet' job: President Barack Obama, who once considered government spending freezes a hatchet job, told Americans on Wednesday it's now part of his solution to the exploding deficit. He didn't explain what had changed. His State of the Union speech skipped over a variety of complex realities in laying out a" common-sense" call to action.... - AP, 1-27-10
  • Americans Want Obama to Spend More Time on the Economy, Poll Finds: On the eve of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, voters think the president should be spending more time on the economy. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 51% of Americans believe Mr. Obama has paid"too little attention" to the economy. Forty-four percent think he has paid"too much attention" to his proposed overhaul of health care. A plurality continues to think that Mr. Obama's health-care plan is a bad idea.... - WSJ, 1-26-10
  • Obama: Most polarizing president in history?: The Gallup Poll people delivered an interesting report today: President Obama was the most polarizing first-year president in history. The average difference in Obama's approval ratings between Democrats and Republicans turned out to be 65 percent -- the highest first-year gap of any president so measured.... - USA Today, 1-25-10
  • Date for State of Union, January 27, 2010: President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address on Jan. 27. The White House announced Monday that the president would speak to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday at 9 p.m. - NYT, 1-18-10

THE HEADLINES....

  • Embattled Obama declares in speech, 'I don't quit': Declaring"I don't quit," President Barack Obama fought to recharge his embattled presidency with a State of the Union vow to get jobless millions back to work and stand on the side of Americans angry at Wall Street greed and Washington bickering. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would fight on for ambitious overhauls of health care, energy and education.... - AP, 1-27-10
  • Republicans say nation can't afford Dem policies: The nation cannot afford the spending Democrats have enacted or the tax increases they propose, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday in the Republican response to the State of the Union address... - AP, 1-27-10
  • Obama Calls Jobs 'Number One Focus' President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech on Wednesday night: President Obama said Wednesday night that leaders in Washington face a"deficit of trust," as he used his first State of the Union address to try to restore public confidence in his administration and to convince the American people that he is intensely focused on the issues that concern them most: jobs and the economy. In a nationally televised speech before a joint session of Congress, Mr. Obama appealed for an end to the"tired old battles" that have divided the country and stalled his legislative agenda. With his top priority, a health care overhaul, on hold in the wake of the recent Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts, he had a pointed warning for both Democrats and Republicans.... - NYT, 1-27-10
  • Obama Vows to Press Ahead With Agenda After 'Difficult' First Year: Acknowledging that his presidency has not yet lived up to his campaign vision, President Obama on Wednesday vowed to press ahead with his ambitious agenda in 2010 on everything ranging from health care reform to jobs creation to immigration reform.... - Fox News, 1-27-10
  • Republicans say Obama has done little to revive economy: In the GOP response to the president's State of the Union address, newly elected Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell specifically criticized Obama's stimulus plan for failing to curb unemployment.... - LAT, 1-27-10
  • NEWS ANALYSIS Obama strives to revive the spirit of 2009: His State of the Union address strikes a populist note, focusing on the familiar themes of change and bipartisanship. But he offers few concrete suggestions for achieving conciliation.... - LAT, 1-27-10
  • Obama's State of the Union address: President acknowledges voters' concerns: President Obama hit what will be one of the political themes that his administration has pushed to explain voters' concerns: frustration and anger. Nowhere did that anger bubble up more than in Massachusetts, where the GOP captured what was once a solid Democratic seat and shifted the political process. The White House has argued that Obama rode that same wave of anger that goes back to the Bush years. But the biggest burr is how Wall Street has prospered with taxpayer help.... - LAT, 1-27-10
  • Bruised Obama's new rallying cry: jobs, not healthcare: President uses first state of the union speech to make job creation overwhelming priority for coming year.... - Guardian UK, 1-28-10
  • Obama on healthcare: Encouragement, but no priority:

    President Barack Obama encouraged the U.S. Congress on Wednesday not to walk away from his stalled healthcare drive, but made it clear it would no longer be the focus of his legislative agenda. After six months of heated political battle on the issue he made his top domestic priority in 2009, healthcare was not mentioned in his State of the Union address until the halfway point and followed a long list of priorities led by job creation, financial regulatory reform and education. With Democrats clamoring for Obama to focus on job creation and the economy, Obama said lawmakers should let"temperatures cool" and then take a fresh look at his healthcare plan.... - Reuters, 1-28-10
  • Obama Invites Republicans to Share Burden of Fixing U.S.: Republicans have been taking plenty of shots at President Barack Obama. In his State of the Union address Wednesday night, one of the president's main goals was to maneuver Republicans into taking some responsibility as well. In essence, the president's message to the opposition party was this: You have taken back enough power to block me, but in turn you will have to share the blame if nothing happens in Washington this year. That represents a pretty obvious effort to turn the president's big liability of the hour—his loss of a controlling super-majority in the Senate—into an asset. The main weapon at Mr. Obama's disposal is voter anger, which is directed at Congress as well as the White House, Republicans as well as Democrats, and which he hopes can be used as a cudgel against the opposition party as much as the party in power..... - WSJ, 1-27-10
  • Democratic anger goes public in prime time: The Democrat-vs.-Democrat anger roiling the ranks of Congress is being wrapped in smiles and standing ovations Wednesday as President Barack Obama outlines the nation's top priorities in his first State of the Union speech. But for most of the Democrats cramming the House chamber, there is no issue more pressing than getting re-elected in November. And it's not clear that pursuing Obama's priorities will help them achieve theirs.... - WaPo, 1-27-10
  • Alito's State of the Union moment: Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. responded to President Obama's criticism Wednesday night of a Supreme Court decision last week by appearing to mouth the words"not true." Obama took issue with a ruling that overturned two of the court's precedents and upended decades of restrictions on corporations being able to use their profits to finance campaigns for and against candidates. It proved to be a striking State of the Union moment: With six justices seated in their black robes directly in front of him in the House chamber, Obama said:"With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections."... - WaPo, 1-27-10
  • GOP elated at yearly meet; Dems? Um, not so much: It's that time of year. The state Democratic and Republican parties held their annual"Where do we go from here?" meetings in Phoenix on Saturday. And my, how quickly times change. A year ago, Democrats were ebullient after grabbing control of the White House and both houses of Congress. Anti-Republican backlash was at its peak. It didn't take long for the bloom to come off that rose.... - Arizona Daily Star, 1-27-10
  • Congress Slows Down on Health Care Congressional leaders slow down health overhaul push, searching for answers on how to proceed: Congressional leaders are taking health care legislation off the fast track as rank-and-file Democrats, wary of unhappy midterm election voters, look to President Barack Obama for guidance in his State of the Union address. House and Senate leaders said Tuesday they need time to determine the best way forward on health care in the wake of last week's special election loss in Massachusetts, which cost Democrats their filibuster-proof Senate majority. Obama is not expected to offer a specific prescription in Wednesday night's speech, but Democrats want to hear him renew his commitment to the health care overhaul he's spent the past year promoting as his top domestic priority.... - AP, 1-27-10
  • In State of the Union, Obama will try to revive message: President Barack Obama will try to pivot past rocky times for the nation and himself tonight in his first State of the Union address, offering a skeptical public repackaged plans to energize the economy, stem a tide of red ink and strengthen anti-terrorism defenses. He'll also be trying to revive his own"yes we can" image.... - AP, 1-27-10
  • Obama's State of the Union address will focus on economy: The president is expected to call for a change in Washington's partisan climate as he tries to reassure Americans that he can lead the way to jobs and better times. But change may be hard to come by.... - LAT, 1-27-10
  • White House Memo In Speech, Obama to Admit Missteps in First Year: For all the questions circulating in Democratic quarters as President Obama tries to weather the worst storm of his administration, perhaps none is as succinct as this: Are the missteps at the White House rooted in message or substance?... When Mr. Obama presents his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening, aides said he would accept responsibility, though not necessarily blame, for failing to deliver swiftly on some of the changes he promised a year ago. But he will not, aides said, accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s. NY"T, 1-26-10
  • Obama to Offer Aid for Families in State of the Union Address: President Obama will propose in his State of the Union address a package of modest initiatives intended to help middle-class families, including tax credits for child care, caps on some student loan payments and a requirement that companies let workers save automatically for retirement, senior administration officials said Sunday. By focusing on what one White House official calls"the sandwich generation" — struggling families squeezed between sending their children to college and caring for elderly parents — Mr. Obama hopes to use his speech on Wednesday to demonstrate that he understands the economic pain of ordinary Americans. The proposals also include expanded tax credits for retirement savings and money for programs to help families care for elderly relatives.... - NYT, 1-25-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Text: Obama's State of the Union Address: The prepared text of President Obama's State of the Union address, delivered Jan. 27, 2010, as released by the White House.... - NYT, 1-27-10
  • Obama's State of the Union Address, Excerpts: America prevailed, because we chose to move forward as one nation and one people....
    One year later, the worst of the storm has passed, but the devastation remains....
    I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit....
    Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal....
    From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious – that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile. For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait?....
    I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation....
    Now let's clear a few things up: I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics....
    I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what's in it for them....
    Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people....
    Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's try common sense – a novel concept....
    But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent – a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators. Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government....
    To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership....
    We can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I am not interested in re-litigating the past. So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough. Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values....
    This year I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are....
    I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.
    But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is....
    We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. - NYT, 1-27-10
  • Obama adds some humor to State of the Union speech: Referring to his struggles in getting a health care bill passed, Obama said dryly:"By now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics." The lawmakers liked that one.
    When Obama introduced first lady Michelle Obama, she sat respectfully in the gallery while others applauded. The president poked a little fun, saying:"She gets embarrassed."
    And when Obama announced he wanted to hold monthly meetings that included Republican leaders, he looked at them and said:"I know you can't wait." - AP, 1-27-10
  • Text The Republican Response to the State of the Union: The prepared remarks that Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia is expected to say after President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, as released by the governor's office... - NYT, 1-27-10
  • McDonnell hammers White House on spending, health care: Last year, we were told that massive new federal spending would create more jobs 'immediately' and hold unemployment below 8 percent....
    In the past year, over three million Americans have lost their jobs, yet the Democratic Congress continues deficit spending, adding to the bureaucracy, and increasing the national debt on our children and grandchildren....
    And our solutions aren't thousand-page bills that no one has fully read, after being crafted behind closed doors with special interests....
    But this administration's policies are delaying offshore production, hindering nuclear energy expansion, and seeking to impose job-killing cap and trade energy taxes," we agree that victory there is a national security imperative....
    But we have serious concerns over recent steps the administration has taken regarding suspected terrorists. Americans were shocked on Christmas Day to learn of the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit. This foreign terror suspect was given the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen, and immediately stopped providing critical intelligence....
    Government should have this clear goal: Where opportunity is absent, we must create it. Where opportunity is limited, we must expand it. Where opportunity is unequal, we must make it open to everyone. Our Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create this nation. Now, we should pledge as Democrats, Republicans and Independents--Americans all---to work together to leave this nation a better place than we found it. - Richmond Times Dispatch, 1-27-10
  • Reaction to the State of the Union address - CNN, 1-27-10
  • Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts): "I was pleased to hear President Obama acknowledge that our economy must be a national priority and I applaud him for taking some important first steps. But putting America back to work requires bold action. Bold action means broad-based tax cuts for families and businesses to create jobs and not merely targeted tax relief. Bold action also means major reform and restructuring to actually cut spending and not just freeze it. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle on far-reaching new initiatives that will put our economy back on track and get our fiscal house in order." - CNN, 1-27-10
  • Sen. John McCain (R - Arizona): "In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked Congress to repeal the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. I am immensely proud of, and thankful for, every American who wears the uniform of our country, especially at a time of war, and I believe it would be a mistake to repeal the policy."This successful policy has been in effect for over 15 years, and it is well understood and predominantly supported by our military at all levels. We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy." - CNN, 1-27-10
  • John McCain on the State of the Union: During his first year in office, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have amassed a $12.4 trillion deficit that is growing each day. While the President advocates increased federal spending, I have actively advocated tax cuts, reduced spending and earmark reform to get our economy back on track. The non-discretionary spending freeze announced by the President is a start, but what he also needs to do is promise to veto bills laden with pork barrel spending and begin creating jobs for the thousands of out-of-work Americans... - johnmccain.com, 1-27-10
  • Joe Wilson Responds to Obama, This Time on Facebook: "What the president proposed tonight would not truly create jobs. He is persisting on the wrong path of excessive spending." Mr. Wilson did commend the president for advocating aid for Haiti and supporting American troops. But he called cap-and-trade legislation"a national energy tax" that"would kill jobs." And he said the federal government should"be limited to doing what we cannot do for ourselves." Discussing the Democratic health care reform proposal, Mr. Wilson said:"It almost sounded like everything for everyone for free. That’s not correct and it’s not truly in the interest of the American people." - NYT, 1-27-10
  • Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee: "Somewhere along the line, the White House lost its way. Instead of focusing on solutions to help America's families wade through the wreckage of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, Washington has wasted valuable time wrestling with partisan politics in an effort to rush through drastic reforms that do not directly address our most immediate needs. The president's address has lent us all hope - hope that the administration is finally heeding our concerns. It's about time."
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.: "We have to wait for the House of Lords to do their contemplating. We're also not getting much guidance from the mother ship about what the White House really wants and what they're prepared to push for."
  • Readers respond to Obama’s State of the Union Question of who's to blame for the political fighting gets mixed reactions: Msnbc.com readers had mixed reactions Wednesday to President Obama's first State of the Union address, blaming everyone from Congress to the president for a ‘deficit of trust’ about how Washington works.... - MSNBC, 1-27-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS' COMMENTS

  • Peniel Joseph: The Annotated State of the Union: President Obama has gone on the offensive for his first major State of the Union speech. Not only does he insist that his embattled health care bill is part of an overall effort to jumpstart the economy, he has listed the tangible impact of last year's controversial stimulus package....
    Obama continues to outline his commitment to bipartisanship here. Very similar to Ronald Reagan in 1982 who derided critics who said he could not get along with a Democratic Congress. It's also a warning to both parties that the American people want them to pass important and meaningful legislation that is forged out of compromise. It remains to be seen if this will be enough, especially in an election year, to convince members of Congress that it's in their own interest to pass legislation rather than simply stand in the way as obstructionists. Unlike Reagan, who had the support of a unified Republican Party and managed to peel off conservative Democrats, Obama has a fractured Democratic Party and a remarkably unified Republican opposition. - PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Diane Ravitch: The Annotated State of the Union: President Obama is surely right that"we need to invest in the skills and education of our people." Unfortunately the national competition that the Obama administration has launched -- known as the"Race to the Top" does not match the rhetoric. What the administration is actually doing is embracing the Republican agenda of choice and accountability, thus continuing to promote the same failed approaches as the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind Act. There was a time, about a decade ago, when the Democratic agenda was equity and professionalization, as contrasted with the GOP agenda of choice and accountability. Sadly, the Obama agenda is no different from that of George W. Bush's education agenda....
    This is not reform. This is a managerial and organizational scheme in which children are treated as numbers and schooling is reduced to data points. The only thing that matters is test scores in reading and math. Other subjects--the non-tested subjects--are ignored. America will not have a great education system if we systematically ignore science, the arts, history, literature, and foreign languages. - PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Robert Kagan: The Annotated State of the Union: On the subject of foreign policy, the speech is very disappointing. Obviously, the president wanted the focus to be domestic, so the foreign policy and defense section is the dullest boilerplate. No new initiatives. No change in rhetoric. Indeed, practically no rhetoric at all. It is almost as if the president was turning the nation inward and stepping away from international involvement. There is no mention of Europe (except as a place where trains run fast), which Europeans will notice. No mention of Japan. And only one use of the word"allies," in the context of Afghanistan. The perception that the Obama administration is pulling away from our allies, which is becoming widespread, will be strengthened by this speech. As to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the speech is about withdrawal, not commitment. As for Iran, there is no mention of the Iranian opposition, the illegitimate Iranian elections, and only the briefest of references to human rights in Iran. Perhaps the world will understand that Obama felt he had to focus on the domestic issues. But it will be hard to avoid the perception that Obama, having little to show for his foreign policy efforts in the first year, has decided to downplay foreign policy. This is worrying. - PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Michael Beschloss: The Annotated State of the Union: Obama eloquently tried to do tonight what JFK did in his speech to Congress after the Bay of Pigs failure in 1961 and what Bill Clinton did in 1995 after losing both Houses of Congress: reframe the way Americans see his presidency after suffering some setbacks. This speech will no doubt help, but he is the first to know that his fate will rest a lot more on the outcome of his efforts to bring American jobs and what happens in two American wars and the struggle against terrorism. - PBS Newshour, 1-27-10
  • Recapping the President's Speech: The New York Times' Adam Nagourney, Jeff Zeleny, Helene Cooper and David Sanger offer their views on President Obama's State of the Union.... NYT, 1-27-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: When liberals revolt: "It could leave him without any strong base of support and fuel the perception that he is an ineffective leader, something else independent voters don't tend to appreciate," he wrote."If the president backs too far away from the issues that animated his supporters in 2008, he could find himself facing even stronger challenges from liberals and depressing the base of support that he will very much need going into 2012." - CNN, 1-26-10
  • Julian Zelizer: State of the Union speech unlikely to ease worries, analysts say: "While not quite as dramatic as Bill Clinton's announcement in his 1996 State of the Union address that the 'era of big government is over,' Obama is signaling that he wants to appeal to centrist voters concerned about government spending," said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian and CNN.com columnist. CNN.com, 1-26-10
  • Douglas Brinkley: State of the Union speech unlikely to ease worries, analysts say: Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said Obama needs to"sell jobs, jobs and more jobs" in his speech."It's essential that, like Clinton, he lets the American people know he feels their pain," Brinkley said."And he needs to use fierce Reaganesque language about smashing al Qaeda. Due to the Christmas bomber debacle, Obama must explain in detail new innovative ways his administration is protecting U.S. citizens from terrorist attacks.".... - CNN.com, 1-26-10
  • David Frum: State of the Union speech unlikely to ease worries, analysts say: "The president will respond as he always does to emergencies: with a speech. In this case, it's his State of the Union address," said David Frum, a CNN contributor and former speechwriter to President George W. Bush."The Obama team always assumes the best remedy for any Obama difficulty is more Obama." Frum said Obama's new populist tone, which he said emerged after the Democrats' surprising loss in the Massachusetts special Senate election, might work short-term if he uses it in Wednesday's speech, but it won't work over the long haul."If so, it would be a big mistake. It may win the president an immediate bounce in the polls by exciting downcast liberals and progressives," Frum said in a CNN.com commentary."But that bounce will prove limited and short- lived, and it will come at the expense of more trouble not very far down the road." - CNN.com, 1-26-10 'Obama the populist' doesn't ring true, CNN, 1-25-10
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin"Political Stakes are High with State of the Union Address": "He's got to make the American people feel that Main Street and job creation is at the center of his priority. When you see a poll that 60 percent say they feel he spent more time thinking about the big banks than the problems of the middle class, he has to shift that perception," historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said. WBAY, 1-27-10


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