Monday, January 24, 2011

Today's State of the SOTU

We've reached the penultimate day before what political speech pros think of as the ultimate pen day, and the speculation and desegregation talk will shortly give way to the speech itself.  But in the meantime, he's your second-to-last daily fix of SOTU news and views.
  • In its lead story this morning, Politico reached a pre-verdict on the speech: ambiance will trump substance.  "In his speech, the president will talk about jobs, the deficit and the future of the nation’s troubled economy, but most of the attention is going to be on the theatrics in the room," the paper reports.  "It will be a night defined by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and murder of six bystanders in Tucson less than a month ago and the highly public soul-searching that has played out since then on the need for greater civility in political debate" 
  • Speaking of the Tuscon shootings, we learned today that Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez -- whom President Obama has already declared a hero for rushing to his boss' aid after she was shot -- will be a guest of honor on Tuesday night in the First Lady's box.  On his birthday, no less.  
  • The USA Today editorial board, joining the rush of free advice givers, took a crack at penning a condensed version of the SOTU the paper's editors would like the president to give.  They recommend a singular focus on the dire threat posed by the national debt.  "If we are to prevail — and we will — we must act in the spirit of our forebears, whose sacrifices bequeathed us this extraordinary nation. We must, as they did, face the threat squarely, and then — together — join in defeating it.
  • Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich suggests the president should take a quite different economic tact and focus the country on the two increasingly divergent and unequal economies that the recession has exposed. "He should point out that the U.S. economy is now twice as large as it was in 1980 but the real median wage has barely budged. Most of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top. In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of Americans got about 9 percent of total income. By the start of the Great Recession they received more than 23 percent. Wealth is even more concentrated.  This is the heart of our problem. Most Americans no longer have the purchasing power to get the economy moving again. Once the debt bubble burst, they were stranded." 
  • Think you know your SOTU trivia? Well, the Christian Science Monitor is giving you a chance to measure your skills, via a seven question vox pop quiz.

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