It’s that time of year again.
President Barack Obama is set to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, pushing forward his agenda via the new White House mantra of getting things done with “his pen and his phone.” But if last year was any indication, the usually dull annual event has become the political prom of sorts and feels nothing like SOTU speeches of its past.
TRANSLATION — there’s nothing boring about it. When Marco Rubio’s thirsty “watergate” bottle reach from last year’s SOTU rebuttal goes viral, you know that politics is changing its game.
Which is a good thing, at last. Obama is set to talk about some important issues plaguing our nation, and if it takes a few mishaps (like Rubio’s thirstiness or House Speaker John Boehner’s shady faces) for U.S. citizens to start caring about immigration, income equality, affordable health care and foreign policy, so be it.
But don’t discount those WTF moments either. Obama is set to deliver his speech against a backdrop of some of the lowest voter-approval ratings of his presidency and in front of a divided Congress. So believe us, the drama is there.
So to help you get through tonight, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of what to expect:
The Good: Obama will use executive power to raise minimum wage for federal contractors.
On Tuesday morning, the White House announced that Obama would use his executive powers to increase minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for workers on new government contracts — a move that fulfills demands by liberal lawmakers and groups, according to a White House document. In addition, Obama will renew his call for Congress to pass legislation to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour by 2015. About 75 percent of contractors earn less than $10 per hour, according to a survey by the National Employment Law Project.
The Bad: Obama’s plea with Congress to let him do his job.
It’s a standard procedure for every SOTU address — outline your agenda and hope that Congress doesn’t throw out any surprise objections when it’s time to get down to business. That means playing nice and walking the fence. Good luck with that, Obama.
The Ugly: Boehner’s face when Obama starts talking.
Because if this photo from Obama’s fifth SOTU address is any indication…Boehner is not impressed.
The Good: Obama is expected to extensively talk immigration reform.
White House clues suggest the President will take this opportunity to talk immigration reform using bipartisan efforts — despite their differences, both parties have expressed an eagerness to finally tackle immigration this year. But he has to be careful. Obama’s real challenge is proposing reform that will both overhaul our current system while not raising the bar too high for conservatives who are just dipping their toes in the water. In other words…it should be interesting to watch how he handles such a controversial, but necessary measure.
The Bad: Vice President Joe Biden might be late…
The Ugly: Talking international relations and Iran.
It’s not a bad thing to talk international relations and foreign policy — at best the SOTU is a time for Obama to remind everyone that he plans to end the 13-year Afghanistan saga and he’s already shut down a war in Iraq. But what will be tricky is Obama’s approach to Iran negotiations. He will want to avoid imposing new sanctions on the country that could disrupt our new, fragile relationship with Iran and it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll handle the touchy subject. (For more information on Iran/US relations, click here).
The Good: Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers will deliver the rebuttal.
Why good? Well, McMorris Rodgers is the first woman to deliver the GOP rebuttal in over 10 years. And while shocking, it’s great news that Republicans are finally stepping out of the Dark Ages…especially with some of their latest comments about women in politics and their history with sexism. Besides, the five-term congresswoman from Washington’s fifth district, (and the fourth highest House GOP leader and highest-ranking woman) has to be better than this…
The Bad: Mentions of Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) dry mouth last year all over the internet.
#NeverForget but also, sorry for the reminder.
The Ugly: The Republican backlash when all is said and done.
We’re sure he’ll do fine, but it’s the inevitable. Good luck tonight, Mr. President.
SOURCE: Getty, Giphy, YouTube
1. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
President Obama sits with Chief Speechwriter Cody Keenan to go over edits on his SOTU speech.
2. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Pete Souza, White House photographer, snaps this photo of President Obama as he screens what could be the final draft of his SOTU speech.
3. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Older drafts of the speech.
4. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
5. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
From Pete Souza's Instagram: "On the Resolute desk in the Oval Office: the President's pen ready to edit latest draft of the State of the Union speech. #insidesotu"
6. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Obama looks over his speech before Tuesday evening. What to expect during the address? A lot of the new White House mantra, which is "I've got a pen and I've got a phone" to pass executive actions.
7. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Keenan and Obama chatting it up about edits.
8. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Keenan and Obama chatting it up about edits.
9. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
The President's jacket hangs off a chair in the Oval Office as he discusses his address with speechwriters.
10. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Pete Souza Instagram: "The President's cup of tea on his desk with the latest draft of the speech. #insidesotu"
11. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
The President chats with Cody Keenan and Dan Pfeiffer regarding the SOTU.
12. The Birth of a State Of The Union Address
Obama meets with Cody Keenan and Ben Rhodes on his State of the Union speech.