President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union speech could easily have been billed as his rebuttal to the beating he has been taking over the last two months from his would-be Republican challengers on the campaign trail and during their numerous debates.
Obama’s State of The Union speech was his attempt to bring back to the national stage the Obama of 2008 that brimmed with optimism and hope. He showed the nation the side of him that was the campaigner who won so many hearts, minds, and votes by speaking about hope, fairness, and the fact that he was best suited to meet the challenges that lay ahead of us.
As usual, President Obama has few peers when it comes to delivering a powerful speech. Republicans can mock his use of teleprompters all they want but he has always done a masterful job of actually utilizing the technology to come across natural and as someone who can engage his audience.
The bookends of his speech get the highest marks in terms of communication a message that could reach across party lines. His use of framing the return of soldiers from oversees as an analogy and call to action for both Republicans and Democrats to work together was an excellent way to start his speech and to show the American people that there are ways to work together to reach a common goal.
I have to fault the middle part of his speech for being a bit too reliant on bullet pointed messages. There are certainly always many points to cover in a speech like this but I do not think that enough time was spent fleshing out a common theme that would appeal to the average American sitting at home. It did seem like he and his staff of writers might have been having an internal, intellectual tug of war over how much to touch on the claims that have been made from the Republican side.
If there was a common theme it seemed to be taking strides to combat some of the claims that the likes of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have been making as they joust for the Republican nomination.
Obama went out of his way to highlight the wealth and tax inequities that are facing the nation and that are certainly in the headlines as Mitt Romney has reluctantly released his tax returns. Extra points in driving home his point were certainly made by having Warren Buffett’s secretary in the audience. A secretary, mind you, that pays a lower tax rate than Mr. Buffet himself.
President Obama spent a good portion of the speech outlining the themes and issues that will be at the center of his coming re-election bid. I will give him high marks in terms of getting out in front of a lot of these points and even going so far as to challenge the Congress to put specific bills on the table for him to sign.
The communication skills of President Obama have never been in doubt and tonight he showed the American people the first signs of what to expect on the campaign trail throughout the rest of 2012.