State of the Union Advice for Obama

Pundits urge Obama to think big, articulate a vision

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 12, 2013 1:59 PM CST

(Newser) – President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight, and every pundit out there has an opinion on how he should approach it. A sampling of the day's top unsolicited advice:

  • "It may be tempting to list a series of measures Obama wants Congress to pass," but Obama should avoid a laundry list, warns historian Julian Zelizer at CNN. "The president should think big," perhaps using the speech, as FDR did in 1941, to "offer a vision" for America, or to take a bold gamble, as Abraham Lincoln did by supporting emancipation in 1862. Or he can simply be honest about today's challenges, as Gerald Ford was when he said the state of the union "is not good."

  • Obama should invoke Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan by emphasizing "America's embrace of human and democratic rights, values that transcend parties and administrations," suggests Albert Hunt at Bloomberg. "Even Senator John McCain, in a grouchy mood, would applaud."
  • "President Obama is apparently planning to give us yet another salvo in that left-right war," laments David Brooks in the New York Times. "But it would be great if Obama gave an imaginative speech that reframed things as present versus future." Somewhere along the line, America went from a forward-looking nation to a consumption-minded one. Smart investments in tomorrow could change that.
  • Meanwhile, Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post has a more scientific look at what Obama should and shouldn't say, noting that in polls some policy ideas, like a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, became less popular when Obama's name was attached to them. Others, like banning assault weapons or ending the war in Afghanistan, got a boost from the association.

President Barack Obama looks towards reporters shouting questions as he walks down the West Wing Colonnade of the White House, Feb. 12, 2013.
President Barack Obama looks towards reporters shouting questions as he walks down the West Wing Colonnade of the White House, Feb. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.   (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)
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