Today in the Morning Line:
- President Obama extends olive branch… to Democrats
- Eleven proposals the president made in State of the Union
- Fact checks galore – your links to the four best
- What was trending on Facebook, Twitter?
A speech for Congress and past Congress: Depending on your perspective, President Obama was either cocky and combative or confident and caring (yes, one of us heard a Democrat on Capitol Hill use that word) in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. Either way, it was one-part populist pitch (perhaps with an eye on 2016 for Democrats), one part legacy defense, and one part drawing a line in the sand. The speech’s theme was “middle-class economics,” and many of the proposals have already landed with a thud with Republicans. But the president forcefully made the pitch anyway, almost looking past the Republican-run Congress — with its approval ratings in the teens — rather than extending any kind of olive branch.
What’s Obama’s hard line about? Instead of putting forth proposals that might have appeal to the newly-in-charge GOP — besides perhaps, for, trade — the president unleashed section after section that charged up Democrats and seemed aimed at positioning his party for 2016. For Democrats: There were tax hikes on the wealthy, tax cuts for others, the minimum wage and the president’s strongest statement yet on the climate. For Republicans: the speech contained veto threats on everything from a rollback of his health care law, Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations, immigration and Iran sanctions. Could this speech simply be a different kind of negotiating tactic for this president? He has been criticized in the past by fellow Democrats for offering too much, too soon to Republicans. Perhaps this time, by drawing a harder line with Republicans, his attitude is that either they will take him more seriously, or, if they don’t, he’ll at least preserve his legacy.
Last piece of legacy defense: Another part of that legacy defense was centered on the criticism that he came to Washington to heal divides but has instead seen partisanship grow. And last night, Mr. Obama pointedly harkened back to the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that bolted him onto the scene. “Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision,” Obama said, adding, “I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.” This “Greatest Hits” framing is a bookend for this president, a last piece of unfinished business. It’s why he still could be open to negotiations with Republicans. And if it doesn’t work out, he will blame them.
Despite the president’s call to reject cynicism, in truth, there’s good reason to feel cynical or at least skeptical that not much will be accomplished between President Obama and Congress. The president himself acknowledged it: “I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.”
Obama’s proposals: We noted yesterday that just two of the president’s 18 proposals to Congress in last year’s State of the Union actually got through Congress. Last night, by our rough count, he proposed another 11 items for Congress to work on — and more than half of them were repeat requests from prior State of the Union addresses:
- Paid sick leave – New
- Free Community College – New
- Authorization for Use of Military Force to combat the Islamic State militant group – New
- End Cuba Embargo – New
- Cyber attacks – New
- Equal pay for women – Repeat
- Raise the minimum wage – Repeat
- Reduce student loan debt – Repeat
- Infrastructure – Repeat
- Trade – Repeat
- Make voting easier – Repeat
What’s trending: We know, talking or writing about what’s happening in “Social Media” can often come across as kind of #lame, but we found some interesting takeaways from Facebook and Twitter last night:
- 5.7 million people on Facebook made 13.8 million likes, posts, comments and shares.
- 2.6 million Tweets related to #SOTU
- The most talked about moment on both Facebook and Twitter was Obama’s unscripted retort in response to Republican clapping after he said he had no more campaigns to run: “I know because I’ve won both of them.”
- The most Tweeted-about issues were: community college, equal pay, climate change and tax reform and health care.
- The top issues for people on Facebook were: the economy and jobs, community college, taxes, minimum wage, and middle class
- The most engaged groups of people on Facebook during the speech were women age 35 to 49, followed by men 35 to 49, men 18 to 34, and men 50 plus.
- The issues those groups cared about varied. For women, it was: community college, taxes, economy and jobs, equal pay, and minimum wage. For men: taxes was No. 1, followed by economy and jobs, community college, middle class, and minimum wage.
The people most engaged on Facebook came from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and South Carolina.
Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter granted an unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. Which presidents have been accused of dodging the draft? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Claire M. Steen (@BearLoves14) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: Which amendment to the Constitution established January 20 as the start and end of every presidential term? The answer: the 20th Amendment.
- And when they awoke, the land was bountiful with State of the Union fact checks. Three we like? FactCheck.org’s may be the most comprehensive; National Journal looked at energy, Obamacare and jobs; and the Washington Post’s Fact Checker took on 11 SOTU data points, with more coming. For the GOP response, Politifact’s annotated fact check of Sen. Joni Ernst’s speech is a great format and interesting read.
- Lost in translation? While Ernst never mentioned immigration in her rebuttal in English, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who delivered the Spanish-language version, said the GOP wanted to work with the president to fix the immigration system.
- Republicans are weighing a plan B on immigration that will allow them to fund Homeland Security past Feb. 27 and still appear steadfast in their opposition to the White House’s executive action.
- According to new details from an internal CIA report known as the Panetta Review, the agency overstated the value of brutal interrogations in gathering intelligence.
- Who says Congress can’t get anything done? By a vote of 91 to 5, the Senate on Tuesday approved an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill to improve energy efficiency in buildings.
- The Supreme Court heard a case Tuesday that could unravel state laws on judicial candidates soliciting campaign donations. Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal spoke with NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff to explain the arguments in the judicial campaigns case and to take a look at the justices’ unanimous ruling in favor of a prisoner who wanted to grow a beard for religious reasons.
- On the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allowed for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in campaigns, the Center for Public Integrity identifies a dozen ways the Citizens United has affected politics.
- Surveillance cameras at Vice President Biden’s Delaware home failed to capture anything of the shooter who fired shots near the house over the weekend. The security system at the home had been so unreliable that the Secret Service switched it off for several months last year, reports Carol Leonnig.
- The Hill kindly laid out how several potential Republican presidential candidates reacted to State of the Union in one article.
- And for the short version, the Wall Street Journal listed the might-be presidents’ tweets and videos last night.
- During a meeting with donors in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Jeb Bush told the group that the Republican Party could not afford to make the same mistakes from past elections, by not connecting with working class voters and the Latino community.
- While he mulls over a presidential run, Sen. Lindsey Graham is asking top South Carolina donors to hold off backing other candidates…for now.
- Mitt Romney believes he had an optics problem in his last campaign.
- Booking a speech by a presidential hopeful? Romney is cheaper than Hillary Clinton, at least at public universities.
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is headed to London next month. The purpose of his trip, according to a spokeswoman, is to develop cultural and business ties between the U.K. and New Jersey…Right, because Snooki and Lady Mary have so much in common. Meanwhile, the governor’s approval ratings in the Garden State are near a four-year low.
- The Senate Leadership Fund, a new super PAC being set up by Mitch McConnell allies, will work with American Crossroads to ensure the GOP holds the Senate in 2016.
- Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.
Here’s the complete list of words never to appear in a SOTU before. (Case-sensitive, hence “internet”): pic.twitter.com/SqvvfAEzlX
— Benjamin Schmidt (@benmschmidt) January 21, 2015
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) January 21, 2015
Biden to CBS on why he feels safe after shots were fired near his Delaware home: “First of all, my house is way off the road.”
— Elizabeth Titus (@emtitus) January 21, 2015
— David Johns (@MrDavidJohns) January 21, 2015
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.
Follow the politics team on Twitter: