Barack Obama's State of the Union: Spin and the speech

US President Barack Obama Mr Obama is expected to shift the focus back on to the US economy

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Sometimes, the spin is more interesting than the speech.

President Obama is soon to make one of the big set piece speeches of the year - the State of the Union.

The White House has already told us it is part of a twin pack with his controversial inauguration address.

Now, they are telling major media outlets like ABC and the Washington Post that, on Tuesday night, the focus will be on the economy.

It's not surprising. Two things were striking about Mr Obama's inauguration address.

Firstly, that there was little attempt to play the part of a healing president, stretching out to soothe the fears of those who didn't vote for him.

It was a forthright, even aggressive, promotion of a liberal agenda for his second term.

He argued that progressive values are, fundamentally, the expression of America's deepest values and follow the arc of American history. Republicans hated that.

Secondly, that main concern of many Americans - the economy - was scarcely mentioned.

The passion was reserved for the issues of gun control, climate change, gay rights and immigration.

It is true he talked about "new jobs" twice, once in the context of green energy and once when talking about re-building America's infrastructure.

Republicans have made much play of this, suggesting he was ignoring the country's most fundamental problems.

The White House may be acknowledging that the inauguration address was a little lopsided.

Maybe Mr Obama simply wanted to say something different. He has, after all, spoken about his economic vision many times before.

It was the centrepiece of the election and, indeed, of last year's State of the Union.

Then, he talked about restoring "an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules".

Now, the White House spin doctors want to condition journalists to look out for the economic content of the next speech, rather than the social issues that may dominate business in Congress.

The last thing they want is for Americans to think he is merely pleasing his base, concentrating on what some see as side issues rather than the fundamentals.

But, if there is a different accent on content, I very much doubt there will be any change to the approach.

I expect to see another iteration of the newly confrontational president, determined to use his bully pulpit to demand change and give notice to his enemies that they had better get out of his way.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    183. DaHindu
    What was wrong was not qualifying it with "most of." In fact the Confederate States had mini-civil wars over secession, WVA was the only one to break free. Where are people for putting religion in the law, large numbers hostile to the Federal government, pro-gun for reason of rebellion, etc. The concentrations are in red not blue states, including large numbers in VA & GA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    I am concerned that Obama will parrot the oft spoken obligato lines to the Jewish lobby about confronting Iran over its only 'allegded' ( no real proof ever presented) nuclear weapon ambitions even insinuating war with Iran while largely beating about the bushes with impotent bravado over North Korea's nuclear tests. US will not go to war with North Korea whatever they do but for Israel anything!

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    182.Strange Thinker: I follow BBC reporting on the US precisely because it is free of the bias (in both directions) that I inevitably find in US journalism.

    Me too, and I live in the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.


    Im sorry but your wrong the former Confederate states didn't just vote red all the way down. Virgina voted Obama, Considering it was one of the two former capitals of the Confederacy. Georgia the other former capital had the strongest Democratic showing since Jimmy Carter. North Carolina was barely won by Romney also. Your facts are simply wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    7.Esilef Ovat: Mr Mardell is attempting to convey the US perspective in ways that those with the European perspective can fathom. Given the gulf to cross, I think he is remarkably unbiased. Your politics typically flummox us. I follow BBC reporting on the US precisely because it is free of the bias (in both directions) that I inevitably find in US journalism. Press on, Mr Mardell.


Comments 5 of 186


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