One last time for the road.
For many of you, tonight’s State of the Union address will feel like the end of an era. After all, seeing any two-term president – whether that be Barack Obama or George W. Bush – giving their last major speech gives some kind of visceral reaction. Whether those emotions are like watching the last few minutes of ‘Furious 7’ or hoping you boo at the TV long enough that the person finally leaves the podium depends on where your political leanings lie. Regardless, this is President Obama’s last State of the Union address, so here are a few things to look out for tonight.
The Empty Seat
Of course we were going to talk about the “empty seat.” How can we not talk about the empty seat! For those that don’t know, President Obama plans to keep one seat vacant at the State of the Union address to remember those lives lost in gun violence. The interesting aspect of this isn’t the plans that President Obama wants to propose with this statement (his plans on gun control are pretty clear from the announcement of his executive order last week), but in how partisan will this play really be?
This puts conservatives in a precarious position of either looking crass on national TV to victims of gun violence or looking soft towards legislation on gun control. In other words, this looks like a no win scenario for the GOP Congress. If we were to bet, our guess would be that most of them stay seated throughout the whole ordeal. Because as a conservative lawmaker in Washington goes, it’s better to get ridiculed by The Daily Show for a night than feel the wrath of the gun lobby tomorrow.
Look for a More “Thematic” Address
Historically speaking, State of the Union addresses tends to be pretty cut and dry. More often than not, it revolves around the current US president listing out a laundry list of policy plans for the coming year. According to the White House however, this time it’s going to be a little different.
The restate what “Caj Obama” is saying, expect this year’s address to be more introspective over the accomplishments that the administration was able to achieve over the past eight years and less bullet-point checklist of policies they hope to pass in President Obama’s final year. This type of State of the Union address tends to be the norm with outgoing presidents, so there’s no reason to believe this one should be any different.
Campaigning on the Bully Pulpit
It’s 2016 and everyone’s mind is on one thing in politics; the 2016 campaigns. While that doesn’t necessarily mean President Obama would overtly endorse someone in the Democratic Party – whether that be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders – but don’t be surprised if you see a quick jab at either the Republican Party or to say Donald Trump. With policy differences on almost every issue between the Obama administration and the GOP 2016 presidential field, President Obama calling them out on certain policy initiatives might as well be a guarantee.
The State of the Union address is scheduled to start at 9 PM Eastern tonight and can be viewed live here.
(Photo Credit: The White House’s Twitter Account)