What about Guns? Obama closed his 2013 State of the Union speech with a passionate plea for a "a simple vote" on legislation to address gun violence, invoking the victims of the Newtown and Aurora massacres, Gabby Giffords and the family of Chicago shooting victim Hadiya Pendleton. A year later, those proposals remain firmly stalled in Congress, with little hope of mustering enough support even to push any through the Democratic-controlled Senate. With locked-down schools and public violence becoming drearily familiar, Obama can scarcely fail to highlight the steps his administration has tried taking to beef up gun regulations at the executive level. But the sweeping federal legislation he wants isn't going to happen anytime soon.
The Second Screen Experience — The White House doesn't just want Americans to watch the SOTU. They want supporters to experience a multimedia, chock-full-of-charts production ripe with the kind of graphics and data that catch eyes on Facebook and Twitter. More than a week before the big night, WhiteHouse.Gov was already steering people toward this year's "enhanced" viewing experience online. The White House had the same strategy last year; this year, they're also pegging a followup "national Google Hangout" by the president to the State of the Union on Jan. 31. It says a lot about our media environment — and about the multiple audiences (Congress, diehard backers, independents and casual viewers) he's trying to reach.
SOTU Déjà vu —
"We must do more to combat climate change."
"I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform will not be easy."
"Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away."
Pundits can picture Obama uttering all of those phrases on Jan. 28, 2014. Trouble is: they're all from LAST YEAR's address. This January finds the second-term president in much the same place as last year, with the vast majority of his top agenda items snarled in Congress. And this year, he has the bungled early rollout of the Affordable Care Act to defend as well. A lot of this year's big ticket items are going to sound very familiar to his audiences.