Wednesday, April 17, 2024

In Last State of the Union, Legacy and 2016 To Dominate Obama’s Address


President Obama is set to deliver the final State of the Union address of his administration Tuesday night. When he enters the House Chamber to address a joint session of Congress, the Cabinet, Supreme Court Justices and the American people he will be hoping to solidify his legacy, and offer a more optimistic vision for the future in light of Republican obstructionists in Congress and on the campaign trail while being mindful not to overtly insert himself into the already unfolding 2016 election season.

“What is the state of the union? The state of the union is a hell of a lot better than it was when he stood there seven years ago. And he’s got to stand up there and remind people of that.” said Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state under Hillary Clinton in Obama’s first term.

A White House aide commenting on the upcoming speech offered that the President “will talk about who we are as Americans and focus on some consistent themes of his presidency—a country that adapts to challenges, that creates things, that believes that change and progress are possible.”

Those close to The White House insist that the President, recognizing the uncooperative environment on Capitol Hill and Republican opposition to anything he may propose, will shy away from a traditional laundry list of legislative objectives for 2016, eager to deprive GOP Leaders of anything resembling a victory by blocking his agenda.

While Obama is not endorsing a Democratic candidate before a nominee is chosen, he has a clear interest in the eventual Democratic nominee succeeding him in office and preserving his accomplishments. All eyes will soon turn to Hillary Clinton, Obama’s first Secretary of State and Democratic frontrunner, to see how her campaign responds to the President’s speech. Clinton is in a delicate balancing act-eager to capitalize on the progress of the Obama years while also avoiding the impression that GOP candidates are keen to invoke, that Clinton is nothing more than Obama’s third term.

Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, and a 2008 Clinton campaign spokesperson added that “by going out there and selling the past seven years, she doesn’t have to. She can stay focused on the future. And, he can begin making the case to general election voters while she’s still in a primary. He can begin looking down the field before she has the luxury to, or before she’s allowed to.”