grimmer, more dubious audience than the popular new president who was
riding high when he first addressed
Then, Obama was celebrating the passage of a
Now he labors under 10 percent national unemployment
and a 48 percent job approval rating in the latest Gallup tracking
poll. The stimulus’s true cost is now projected at
Obama’s address, his first official State of the
Union, is expected to acknowledge these shifts and deliver a sharpened
populist appeal to the middle class and independent voters, along with
a focus on creating jobs and reining in government spending.
“I think the key in this speech, what he’ll discuss more than anything, is getting our economy moving again,”
The president also is likely to underscore his
commitment to a health care bill, but to put it in the context of how
it will serve the nation’s economic well-being.
“The number one issue by far is jobs and the economy,” said
a pollster at Ipsos Public Affairs. “People are worried about their
pocketbooks. Foreign policy is still on the radar, but it’s way down on
the list. It’s domestic issues.”
Obama needs to be empathetic about people’s problems
and offer concrete solutions without overpromising, Young said.
“There’s a malaise, a sense that the government has not been able to
get things done. The longer it lasts, the more likely he becomes known
as the guy who can’t get things done.”
Aides already have said that the president will call
for a three-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending.
Republicans question his sincerity, however, with House Minority Leader
“On the one hand, he has to say, ‘I understand the
voters who are unhappy and I agree with them. I can see why they’re
unhappy.’ That’s one of the most potent ways of showing an audience
you’re a credible person, is to admit the other side has a point,”
“On the other hand, he cannot say, ‘So I’m
abandoning all the things I wanted to do.’ He has to say, ‘I will keep
fighting for the things I campaigned for that brought me to the
Richard Trumka, the president of the
said in an interview Tuesday that the jobs issue “cuts across
independents, Republicans and Democrats. That’s not a partisan thing;
it’s an American thing.” It’s the same for health care, he said.
The details may have partisan ramifications, however. Trumka wants Obama to say that he’ll pay for job creation by taxing “
Trumka and his members want to hear the president call for expanding collective bargaining. They also want him to push the
Another key audience for Obama is
Even as the president finalizes his prepared remarks, new economic challenges keep coming. The nonpartisan
Also on Tuesday, the
Obama-backed concept of creating a commission that would recommend ways
to cut the federal debt. That rejection could prompt the president to
create such a panel by executive order. Obama is to offer his fiscal
2011 budget on Monday.
Like past presidents, Obama is expected to touch on a list of issues before him, among them:
—Sending more troops to war in
—Dealing with terrorist threats on U.S. soil.
—Addressing issues important to his Democratic base
that so far have had to wait, such as immigration, carbon emissions and
“The problem is he has two very different audiences: independents, who want to be reassured that he heard the message of
and progressives, who worry that Obama has forgotten the lessons of
2008 and their desire for fundamental changes in American policy,” said
“He needs both of them to be successful.”
(c) 2010, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.