Barack Obama's State of the Union: Spin and the speech

US President Barack Obama Mr Obama is expected to shift the focus back on to the US economy

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Sometimes, the spin is more interesting than the speech.

President Obama is soon to make one of the big set piece speeches of the year - the State of the Union.

The White House has already told us it is part of a twin pack with his controversial inauguration address.

Now, they are telling major media outlets like ABC and the Washington Post that, on Tuesday night, the focus will be on the economy.

It's not surprising. Two things were striking about Mr Obama's inauguration address.

Firstly, that there was little attempt to play the part of a healing president, stretching out to soothe the fears of those who didn't vote for him.

It was a forthright, even aggressive, promotion of a liberal agenda for his second term.

He argued that progressive values are, fundamentally, the expression of America's deepest values and follow the arc of American history. Republicans hated that.

Secondly, that main concern of many Americans - the economy - was scarcely mentioned.

The passion was reserved for the issues of gun control, climate change, gay rights and immigration.

It is true he talked about "new jobs" twice, once in the context of green energy and once when talking about re-building America's infrastructure.

Republicans have made much play of this, suggesting he was ignoring the country's most fundamental problems.

The White House may be acknowledging that the inauguration address was a little lopsided.

Maybe Mr Obama simply wanted to say something different. He has, after all, spoken about his economic vision many times before.

It was the centrepiece of the election and, indeed, of last year's State of the Union.

Then, he talked about restoring "an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules".

Now, the White House spin doctors want to condition journalists to look out for the economic content of the next speech, rather than the social issues that may dominate business in Congress.

The last thing they want is for Americans to think he is merely pleasing his base, concentrating on what some see as side issues rather than the fundamentals.

But, if there is a different accent on content, I very much doubt there will be any change to the approach.

I expect to see another iteration of the newly confrontational president, determined to use his bully pulpit to demand change and give notice to his enemies that they had better get out of his way.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    183. DaHindu
    What was wrong was not qualifying it with "most of." In fact the Confederate States had mini-civil wars over secession, WVA was the only one to break free. Where are people for putting religion in the law, large numbers hostile to the Federal government, pro-gun for reason of rebellion, etc. The concentrations are in red not blue states, including large numbers in VA & GA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    I am concerned that Obama will parrot the oft spoken obligato lines to the Jewish lobby about confronting Iran over its only 'allegded' ( no real proof ever presented) nuclear weapon ambitions even insinuating war with Iran while largely beating about the bushes with impotent bravado over North Korea's nuclear tests. US will not go to war with North Korea whatever they do but for Israel anything!

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    182.Strange Thinker: I follow BBC reporting on the US precisely because it is free of the bias (in both directions) that I inevitably find in US journalism.

    Me too, and I live in the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.


    Im sorry but your wrong the former Confederate states didn't just vote red all the way down. Virgina voted Obama, Considering it was one of the two former capitals of the Confederacy. Georgia the other former capital had the strongest Democratic showing since Jimmy Carter. North Carolina was barely won by Romney also. Your facts are simply wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    7.Esilef Ovat: Mr Mardell is attempting to convey the US perspective in ways that those with the European perspective can fathom. Given the gulf to cross, I think he is remarkably unbiased. Your politics typically flummox us. I follow BBC reporting on the US precisely because it is free of the bias (in both directions) that I inevitably find in US journalism. Press on, Mr Mardell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    28.Lafayette, 64.Kingsley O, 39.Trikey, Et al: Bipartisan first term? Obamacare and “you have to vote for it to know what’s in it” railroading methods to pass the most societal-changing legislation since Social Security was in no way bipartisan. That directly stimulated establishment of the Tea Party and lost House leadership to the Republicans after only 2 years. Hardly bipartisan!

  • Comment number 180.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 179.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    "US, Jews, Brits"

    Labels. inherited, imposed, clung to, one against other

    'Black & white', 'east & west', 'christian & muslim', 'protestant & catholic'

    Everywhere, people marshalled by Mammon, kept in dark on democratic deficit, entertained by dreams & nightmares, aggression left as apparently only defence

    Teach the people, in society as in marriage & business, equal partnership

  • Comment number 177.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 176.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 175.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    MagicKirin @166
    "gimee crowd"?

    Cover blown

    Coming to think you MUST be a closet Democrat

    Obama's secret weapon come to light

    Secret even from the team

    You could take a rest

    Well deserved


  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    I'm just tired of the unbelievable bullheaded stubbornness our two political parties are displaying. Politics is supposed to be the art of compromise. I'm in high school, and I know more about compromise than Congress does. This unwillingness to compromise is the real reason why nothing is getting done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Scott: You could have said "opponents" instead of "enemies"

    Didn't Obama call Republicans his enemies when he was campaigning?

    Steve: He appears to relish in demonizing half of our citizens

    The majority of Democrats in 1990's were against gay marriage, giving illegals amnesty, etc

    So why is Obama against everything Democrats+Republicans- America- represented our whole life before 2000?

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    The President is on the Driver's Seat & if he please 1st only those who put him there may not be right but in Politics you have to pay back. The last Election was dominated by Partisan Politics where as the foundations of this Nation working for the People, with the People & by the People were left at the Back SEAT In between the Debt issues will continue to grow with no light in the Tunnel

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Pmk: vote for a party which made their illegal sneaking to El Norte possible

    Either the laws are for everybody or nobody

    This is why Obama is considered so divisive-
    instead of bringing Americans together, he pushes us apart

    Obama is the most divisive President of all time
    He can't even be compared to Lincoln

    Obama's legacy will be for leaving USA with unsustainable debt

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    133. SteveG
    President Obama is as "divisive" as Lincoln was, and for some of the same reasons. Today's "Red States" include all of the former Gray Confederate states. Their angst is also the same, in the 1860s the slave states were on the wrong end of demography, like the GOP/FOX/Red states today. Haw call him divisive when the GOP is the rejection front?

  • Comment number 168.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 167.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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