White House Correspondent Chuck Todd got it right when he described the mood of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) Address Tuesday night: “It did not feel like your 6-year State Of The Union speech, where you’re sort of past the campaign, where you’re no longer framing larger party arguments but you’re actually trying to get a few things done before you get out of office. To me, this was the most surprising part of the speech.”
That could have much to do with the fact that the president now faces his toughest opposition yet—both sides of Congress under Republican control. He’s in for a real dog fight.
With Obama’s last presidential campaign behind him, pressure is on to define his legacy. But with the new Congress intent on repealing most everything he has achieved, his legacy may lie in hanging on to the progress he’s already made.
Tuesday’s speech was heavily focused on income equality and its various components—equal pay for equal work, 7 days of paid sick leave for everyone, and raising of the federal minimum wage. The president also has a new plan to help ease the financial burden of childcare for working families.
“It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”
He continued. . .
"And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.”
Republicans showed no love for these comments. None of the leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner, rose while the audience gave a standing ovation.
There was a show of bipartisan support for the president on issues of justice system reform and the threat of ISIL.
“We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift,” Obama said, addressing recent conflicts between police and citizens in black communities.
In regard to horrific terrorist acts witnessed in Syria, the president asked Congress for help. “…Tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”
Sounding like a man with legacy clearly on his mind, Obama said “I have no more campaigns to run.” Sparks flew when a heckler applauded the point that Obama will not be running for president again. He responded, “I know because I won both of them (elections).”
The Commander-In-Chief will need all the fire he can muster as he takes on a reticent Congress for the next two years. But he appears ready, as noted by the Huffington Post, whose post-SOTU piece is titled “Full Throttle Obama.”