On Tuesday, February 12 at 9 pm EST, President Barack Obama will address Congress and the nation in the 2013 State of the Union. Coming on the heels of a resounding Democratic victory in the November election, which saw majorities voting for Obama’s reelection and for Democrats in both houses (despite Republicans winning a majority of seats in the House of Representatives due to gerrymandering), Obama will likely deliver a confident and vindicated speech Tuesday evening. Democrats close to Obama say he is planning to deliver a more “aggressive” speech to keep the GOP on the defensive ahead of the looming budget cuts, set to go in effect in March barring congressional action.
Mirroring his inaugural address, look for the 44th president to begin his second term with a speech focusing on domestic issues, which are consistently viewed by voters as far more important than foreign policy. Both the White House and the Senate recently released immigration reform programs, but a response from the House (and House Republicans) is still needed. Additionally, the deficit, defense and entitlement spending, tax reform and the economy will likely feature prominently.
Popular issues notwithstanding, the president has far more actual power over foreign policy than domestic, so Obama’s comments regarding the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran will be of particular interest to FP wonks. The military is planning to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan by about two thirds over the next year or so, but details and timing have yet to be elucidated. While on the ground operations have been reduced in Afghanistan, drone strikes have increased hugely in Pakistan. However, Obama failed to give this controversial policy a single reference on January 21, so don’t expect much focus here on Tuesday. And lastly, the president will likely continue to defend the U.S. posturing against Iran in the form of economic sanctions.
Political speeches are frequently quite predictable (which is what will make this drinking game so enjoyable), but Obama’s oratorical skills never cease to impress, so this speech will at very least be a stirring one.
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