President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union Address on Tuesday night and he is expected to blow up the mold and skip the usual laundry list of policy proposals. Instead, he is expected to present a vision of the nation very different from the one offered by the Republican candidates for president, especially billionaire Donald Trump.
Expect the president to talk about a nation creating jobs at a remarkably consistent pace and on the cusp of faster growth, the recovery of the once-disastrous auto industry, progress in fighting climate change and enacting stronger gun controls while extending health coverage to more Americans and shutting down the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In short, Obama will be making a case for his own legacy as president and subtly urging Americans to continue the path he set by electing a Democratic successor, most likely former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Obama of course will not make a direct case for Clinton. He has pledged to stay out of the nominating fight and has also met with Clinton's left wing challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
But Obama's goal will clearly be to convince voters that the scary picture painted by Trump and other Republican candidates of an America beset by terrorism, threatened by illegal immigration and stuck in an economic rut is not an accurate one. Obama directly confronted Trump in a lengthy appearance on NBC's "TODAY" show from the White House on Tuesday, dismissing the real estate mogul's chances and denigrating his policies.
Asked if he felt responsible for Trump's rise, Obama demurred. "Talk to me if he wins," he said. "Then we'll have a conversation about how responsible I feel about it." Obama added that he did not believe Trump could draw broad national support. "I'm pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Americans are looking for the kind of politics that does feed our hopes and not our fears," Obama said. He added that the only way he can imagine Trump delivering a State of the Union Address is in a "Saturday Night [Live] skit."