Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address

With dust settling from Obama’s State of the Union, it is time to apply some analysis to what he said. By far my favourite analysis was that of John Zogby, of Zogby Polls, who said on Radio 4’s Today programme that this was far from a lame duck, in fact this was a “quacking duck”. This certainly appeared to be the case in the confidence Obama displayed throughout the address; in what could be seen as a thinly veiled warning to Congress he quipped, “‘I have no more campaigns to run…I know because I won both of them.”

Obama laid out a range of plans including: improving the American infrastructure, challenging Congress to provide free community college, improve sick pay and the minimum wage, shut Guantanamo Bay and get equal pay for men and women.

Some news outlets have been touting this State of the Union as Obama looking to secure his legacy and push a more liberal agenda; this is certainly supported by his willingness to usurp Congress late last year by signing his executive order on immigration. Boehner, the Speaker of the House, was clearly not impressed: this was clear throughout from his facial expressions as he sat behind Obama, and his statement afterwards – “more taxes, more government, and more of the same approach that has failed middle-class families. These aren’t just the wrong policies, they’re the wrong priorities: growing Washington’s bureaucracy instead of America’s economy.” This serves to underline the fight that Obama is likely to have on his hands in the coming to years, especially with immigration looming large on the horizon. The coming Congress seems to be shaping one that will not embody the principle of bipartisanship, as hoped for by the Founding Fathers and laid out in the Constitution.

Some news outlets were talking about this as the starters pistol for the 2016 elections, which serves as excellent evidence for those students discussing the ever-lengthening invisible primary process.

The articles below represent some of the best summaries of this speech from across the Internet. Notably, the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/01/the-language-of-the-state-of-the-union/384575/) have a fabulous graphic identifying the most commonly used words in State of the Union addresses from George Washington’s all the way to Obama’s – the insight this lends could be a great example of the importance of the State of the Union address for a President looking to set an agenda, suggest legislation, or – in Obama’s case – looking to show the world he is not a lame duck and spur Congress into action.

The Daily Mail article (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2919157/Obama-touch-income-inequality-leading-foreign-policy-State-Union-bashing-North-Korea-embarrassing-Sony-hack.html) also brilliantly summarised the key issues Obama raised and provides great examples for those looking to get examples for the power of persuasion of a President or the party policies of the Democratic Party. Many of these articles also include a three-minute summary of the hour-long speech, and are well worth watching; the full State of the Union can easily be found on YouTube.

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/01/20/the-remarkable-confidence-of-barack-obama/
  2. http://time.com/3675623/state-of-the-union-2015-barack-obama/
  3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-remainder-of-obamas-legacy-may-depend-largely-on-him-going-it-alone/2015/01/20/230cf114-9b6c-11e4-96cc-e858eba91ced_story.html?tid=pm_politics_pop
  4. http://news.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/obama-2015-state-of-the-union-address-sotu-live/?_r=1
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-30908095