President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech is expected to focus on the economy, jobs, gun violence and guns control, energy, and discrimination and immigration. While the main thrust will be heavily on the economy and gun control, Obama is also expected to focus on Afghanistan and North Korea in terms of foreign policy.
According to CNN, citing “sources with knowledge of the president’s speech,” Obama will announce that 34,000 U.S. troops will return home from Afghanistan by 2014.
Denise Bostdorff, professor of political rhetoric at the College of Wooster in Ohio, said that often values and policies come into conflict and the State of the Union is the chance for the president to meditate on the nation’s values, while at the same time, the president will lay out the policies he will support in office.
“What State of the Unions often do, is that a president uses them as an opportunity to pick particular kinds of values—and to praise those values and think about what their meaning is for today, and the current climate,” Bostdorff said.
Present at the speech will be the Supreme Court Justices, Congress, the whole legislative branch, and the cabinet. One member will not be beside the president—the designated survivor often known as the next president if an emergency happened during the State of the Union. Guests are also invited.
Guests of the president are often invited with the intention to highlight them, their causes and values, and then the president introduces policies.
“It’s a really interesting rhetorical move,” Bostdorff said, adding that Regan started it when he invited a man who saved his soldiers under enemy fire in The Invasion of Grenada—Congress did not agree on that invasion at the time.
“His bravery meant that they were saved, and everyone was applauding. How could you not? And it meant the Grenada is free.” Bostdorff said.
“So, suddenly you are applauding a policy that you oppose. What really happens is that individuals get picked…and it’s very hard to disagree with the person standing there, “ she said.
According to NPR and USA Today, First lady Michelle Obama has invited a handful of guests, including a first grade teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary, where the worst U.S. school shooting ever took place; and a recent college graduate who benefitted from the Affordable Care Act; and a college student from Mexico that benefitted from the DREAM Act; a teenage girl that won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair; and a female sergeant with the Female Engagement Team.
In a White House video on the making of the State of Union, experts said that people give a reality and a human face to the policies.
But also, Congressman Steve Stockman is bringing musician and gun advocate, Ted Nugent, according to his office’s press release.
Bostdroff suspects that Obama will talk about what he said at his inaugural, and that the economy will be a big focus. “It is just the pressure of the moment,” she said.
Next, Obama will—as presidents often do after the State of the Union—take to the road the following week to push the legislative agendas.
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