President Obama will launch a bid for the political center during Tuesday evening's State of the Union address, aiming to recast himself as a "business-friendly, pragmatic progressive" rather than a "big-government liberal," reports The New York Times. The president will also call for an end to the partisan rancor that has divided the body politic for much of the past two years. Obama will appeal to "independent voters and business owners and executives alienated by the expansion of government and the partisan legislative fights of the past two years." Can Obama spin himself as a centrist? (Watch The Week's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about Obama's centrist move)
Obama must build on his momentum: The president has already moved to the center, says Fareed Zakaria at The Washington Post, "and it is working — politically." But Obama needs to persuade voters that bipartisanship is "not simply an exercise in political theater," but a genuine attempt to "produce better policies than ideologically driven agendas." On Tuesday, he can become what America yearns for: "A president who can deal with both parties and gets things done."
"Can Obama get it right on the economy"
One speech won't change anything: Obama will tell Americans "what they want to hear" on Tuesday, says Liz Peek at Fox News, by outlining a commitment to less regulation and an embrace of private enterprise. "Unfortunately, actions speak louder than words." Our government is as big as ever, and the president hasn't suggested any realistic way to tackle the financial crisis or create jobs. He may want to convince voters that the president they've seen since November is the real Obama, but when it comes down to important issues, "our newly centrist president" will still stick to his old ways.
"Will we see a new President Obama at the State of the Union?"
He must re-establish his moral leadership: While the "political realities" of today dictate a swing to the center, says Sasha Abramsky at Salon, Obama must not neglect the "moral core" of "his administration's original promise." He must reclaim the "high ground" and emphasize American values of empathy and respect for their fellow citizens. "The country has always best succeeded economically, socially, diplomatically, when it nurtures these values." That's more important than political alignment.
"The State of the Union message Obama must deliver"