Talking Points: Last Night's State of the Union Address and Obama's Tone Shift
Last night President Obama gave this year's State of the Union address. Declaring 2014 to be a 'year of action,' he proposed many of the same initiatives that he did in last year's State of the Union address, although his tone was much different this year.
- The speech was heavy on future executive action, representing a 9 to 2 ratio compared to last year's address: This year's State of the Union address was heavy on threats of executive action circumventing Congress. Nine times the President alluded to using executive action to further his agenda. In last year's State of the Union address, he mentioned using executive action only twice.
- The President put more emphasis on some issues this year by forecasting executive action: The tone shift from last year's speech and this year's speech is apparent in the way Obama talked about actions he wants Congress to take. Last year, Obama explicitly appealed to Congress eight times to pass legislation on a range of issues including manufacturing hubs, natural gas technology, refinancing, higher education, immigration, cyber security, and gun control. This year, Obama appealed to Congress with as much frequency, but he often couple the request with a declaration of executive action on issues such as help for the natural gas industry and unemployment insurance.
- The President's appeals to Congress shifted in tone between last year's address and this year's: Towards the end of his address last year, Obama said, "I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word for it that we're doing things the right way. So in the months ahead, I will continue to engage Congress..." This year, Obama declared near the beginning of the speech that "Some [proposals] require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still--and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
- Another example of the tone shift is the juxtaposition of the President's appeal for gun control measures last year and this year: Last year, making the State of the Union address two months after the Newtown massacre, Obama said on the topic of gun control: "Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. Now, if you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote." In last night's State of the Union address, Obama addressed gun control by saying, "Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say 'we are not afraid,' and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."
In Case You Missed It
Watch Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers ffer the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address last night:
|Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers offers GOP response to SOTU|