6 State of the Union Takeaways

Obama combative, but makes some peace offerings
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2014 7:39 AM CST
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – Another State of the Union address is in the books, and you know what that means: Time for pundits to assemble random observations and analysis into "takeaway" lists! Here are some of our favorite reactions this morning:

  • The Boehner Card: How do you get Republicans to applaud? Flatter them. Obama showed "a deftness he either didn't possess or chose not to wield in years past," Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post writes, by using John Boehner as an example of the American dream. The belief that hard work should pay off is "how the son of a barkeep is Speaker of the House," Obama said.

  • What Was Left Unsaid: You can tell Obama thinks immigration reform is actually possible, because he said almost nothing about it. By avoiding any specific demands, Obama made it easier for House leaders to forge a compromise, Carrie Dann at NBC News observes. Cillizza adds that his language—"I know both parties in the House" will act—was "an olive branch extension if ever we've heard one."
  • The Campaign Is On: But it wasn't all bipartisanship. Obama also effectively laid out a 2014 campaign platform for Democrats, with bumper sticker slogans like, "Give America a raise." Democrats think the minimum wage issue in particular is a winner, and with good reason, Politico points out; recent polls show that three-quarters of the country support a hike.
  • Obama's Done Apologizing for ObamaCare: The president's health care defense was so combative that it "could have been written by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi," writes Frank James at NPR. "Let's not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans," he said, challenging Republicans to come up with solutions of their own.
  • Think Small: Most of Obama's concrete proposals were pretty modest, Dann notes. Improving broadband access, reforming federal training programs, and creating "MyRAs" (a term, NPR notes, that Obama had trouble spitting out), "aren't exactly sexy, even if they could positively impact many Americans' lives."
  • Forget Congress: Perhaps the most hyped aspect of Obama's speech was his new focus on executive orders.The not-so-subtle message, according to Politico: "Republicans stalled my agenda in 2013, perhaps the worst year of my presidency. You think I’m going to sit by and let you do it again?"

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