Glenn Thrush writes: "Obama swings left in retro State of the Union."
Even before he spoke, Obama has already signaled a bolder, more assertive approach on core Democratic issues, unveiling a series of specific new gun control and immigration reform efforts, no-expiration-date items on his party’s perpetual to-do list that have been thrust to prominence by recent events.Congress is more likely than not to take action on those items than Obama’s new policy proposals, with bipartisan groups currently working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Senate is also likely to take up limited gun regulations. most likely a measure requiring universal national background checks on all firearm purchases.Yet even here Obama threw down a gauntlet, demanding an up-or-down vote on more stringent measures like a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he said. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.”By laying down all these markers, Obama hopes to coerce Congress into bipartisan deals that bipartisan backroom negotiations haven’t yet yielded.
Carrie Budoff Brown adds: "Aggressive speech, even more aggressive message."
The speech President Barack Obama delivered in his State of the Union address Tuesday night was aggressive — but not nearly as aggressive as the message he was sending to Congress between the lines of what he said. . .Here’s POLITICO’s guide to translating what the president said at the podium, and what he really meant. . .What he said: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.What he meant: I plan to embarrass Congress into taking this whole gun control effort seriously.Translation: It’s not just Republicans whom Obama needs to convince.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), one of the president’s most loyal allies, hasn’t appeared eager to throw his full weight behind passing a package of gun control proposals. A solid bloc of moderate Senate Democrats, including some up for reelection in 2014, are skittish, too.Obama signaled during this passage of his speech that he would shame lawmakers into at least considering legislation, using his bully pulpit to force action.His recitation of the phrase, “they deserve a vote,” brought the chamber to its feet. Even Boehner stood up when Obama invoked Giffords.