There will be more prose, less poetry, though President Obama will certainly highlight the themes of his Inaugural Address and his earlier poetic speeches. He will be specific about policy: on immigration, gun violence, climate change, military expenditures and reforms, and the need for a balanced approach to immediate and long-term economic challenges. He will hang tough on the sequestration, calling the Republicans’ bluff, and he will warn of the dangers the U.S. faces abroad, while he defends his foreign policy, including his major accomplishment of ending two disastrous wars (though he won’t call them that). The speech is going to be about jobs and the middle class. This is all expected by the chattering class, and I think Obama will meet expectations. But I also think that there will be more interesting things going on. The President will move forcefully ahead on his major project, moving the center left on issues foreign and domestic. And there are significant signs he is succeeding, see this report from a deep red state.
Look for an opening to Republican moderates. I suspect Obama will not only stake out his positions, but also point to the way that those holding other positions may work with him on contentious issues. This will be most apparent in immigration reform. He will also likely address Republicans concerns about long-term cuts in government spending.
He will highlight the need for a leaner, but as mean, military budget, as he denounces the dangers of the thoughtless cuts in military spending via the sequester. Real cuts in military spending will please his base, including me, but also some more libertarian Republicans, Rand Paul, though not John McCain.
Less pleasing for progressives would be what Obama very well may say about so-called “entitlements.” I am not sure he will do this now, but if not now, when?
He could make clear his priority – control medical and Medicare expenses, reminding us that this is a . . .