Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

Finally ending the hiatus!

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Wow!  Who knew how fast nearly eight months could go by?!  I offer my sincerest apologies to the dedicated readers of this blog who have been missing my quirky insight on the latest news in politics and public affairs.  I took the fall semester off from graduate school in order to focus on the midterm elections and then present a study I was a part of at a national public opinion conference.

I’ve since returned to the office and the classroom for two more semesters of study before completing my M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications.  Conveniently timed with the beginning of the spring semester is the State of the Union Address to be delivered by President Barack Obama this Tuesday.  Today’s Wisconsin State Journal devoted an entire page of its newsprint edition to the upcoming speech, which is predicted to focus on the economy and civility in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona: “Expect the economy to serve as the major focus of the speech, both short-term job creation and his plans for long-term stability, with a secondary theme being a call for civility and compromise.”

The primary theme of the 2010 midterm elections, the economy played a significant factor in voters’ decision-making at the polls and delivering majority control over the U.S. House of Representatives to Republicans.  As of December 2010, the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Additionally, President Obama is confronted with the challenge his ideology poses to independent voters who supported him two years ago, but who recently ousted a number of his Congressional allies.  As Brit Hume of Fox News said on Fox News Sunday, the President can’t appear as a “lefty” during the State of the Union Address.  Essentially, President Obama needs to demonstrate a readiness to work with the traditionally pro-business Republicans in crafting the policies needed to re-energize the nation’s business community and foster the economic growth needed to get jobless Americans back to work.

Whether or not the President’s message will be enough to convince Republicans that he’s willing to work with them will be determined by Wisconsin’s Congressman Paul Ryan, who was selected to deliver the rebuttal to the State of the Union Address.  The new Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Ryan will undoubtedly be on alert for perceived excessive appropriations amid a $371 billion budget deficit proposed by the President during his address.  He’ll also be speaking on behalf of his freshman colleagues, most, if not all, of whom won their seats on a “fiscal responsibility” campaign platform.

It will be interesting to see if and how President Obama tailors his message this week to appeal to the Republican-controlled House and the voters he must work to bring back on his side in time for November 2012.

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Written by Stephanie

January 24, 2011 at 2:28 am

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