Although the State of the Union is often compared to the “Super Bowl” of Washington, DC politics, this year it was more like the “senior prom” as many members of the House and Senate attempted to “pair up” and sit with a colleague from the other party in an effort to convey a sense of bipartisanship in light of the aftermath of the shooting of Congressman Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona earlier this month. Many pundits viewed these efforts as purely optical, and of little substance, beyond the immediate effect of a more muted response to some of President Obama’s policy proposals. It will be interesting to see if any real bipartisanship results.
During his speech, Obama appeared to be going after the political center and took a nuanced approach towards curbing the U.S. budget deficit, and putting together a blueprint to “win the future,” by balancing such budget-cutting measures with the need for investments (i.e., spending) in key areas such as education, high-speed rail, clean-energy technology, and high-speed Internet for all Americans. This effort to reach out to the middle marks a continuation of a strategy initiated during the lame duck. While many of the left, as well as some on the right, may view this as pandering to Republicans, its success during November and December could be an indication that the President sees this as the path towards a successful reelection effort in 2012.
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