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The State of the Union: Three Tactics for the Coming Campaign

I just finished watching the State of the Union Speech and thought I would write a bit about what I heard. Obama employed three tactics in tonight’s speech that I think he will continue to press as the campaign moves forward. First of all, he is beginning to try to appeal to the right in an effort to grab votes from the center. Specific examples of this are his opening and closing celebration of the death of Osama bin Laden, his calls for deregulation (milk is not oil was my favorite part of the speech), his push against Chinese trade violations, and his claims of opening up 75% of available offshore oil sources for drilling. The second tactic that he pressed is a more traditional populist appeal that pits the poor against the rich over the issue of “fairness.” This is what most people expected to see when they heard about Warren Buffet’s secretary being invited, but I was surprised by how little of the speech was taken up by it. I was even more surprised by the almost direct attack against Romney by denouncing the term “envy” (as in Romney’s remarks about the “politics of envy”). The third tactic, which is a little bit harder to see, is a congressional set up. The set up begins with the consistent command of Obama to “put a bill on my desk and I’ll sign it.” He did this at least three times by my memory and, in my opinion, he is demanding action here so that he can denounce inaction later when he runs against a “do-nothing” congress. During the speech, I thought his appeals to congress to work together seemed heartfelt, he accused both Republicans and Democrats of stymieing things in the past, however, I don’t see his future stump speeches having the same sense of universal condemnation. Well, that’s all I have for tonight . . . I’m sure I’ll have more to say about things after I process the speech a bit more.

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