To The Point

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President Obama will deliver this year’s State of the Union address at 9 PM ET/ 6 PM PT Tuesday night.

KCRW will be covering the SOTU here and on air (89.9 FM if you’re in Southern California).

In the meantime here a few pieces to help you get ready for the State of the Union address:

Politico: Glenn Thrush writes: When POLITICO asked how Obama is approaching the speech compared with his previous State of the Union addresses, a person close to the process of drafting the speech replied with a 2,500-year-old quote from Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu: “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”

The New York Times: David Leonhardt writes: “As he prepares to deliver the first State of the Union address of his second term, on Tuesday night, he and his advisers face some big decisions on climate policy. One is how to make the biggest dent in carbon emissions through executive-branch actions, given the long odds of Congress’s passing any substantial bill. Another is to rethink the economics of climate policy now that the early burst of green-job enthusiasm has waned.”

The Huffington Post: David Leopold writes: “Senator Marco Rubio (R-FLA) will make history Tuesday night. For the first time in the nation’s history, he will deliver a response to the president’s State of the Union address in two languages, English and Spanish. He is the son of Cuban immigrants and, no pressure here, considered by some to be the GOP’s greatest hope to repair its shattered image. His bottom line political objective will be to reach out to Latino voters who, quite frankly, have been repelled by the GOP’s embrace of extremist anti-immigrant policy proposals, such as “self-deportation” and opposition to the DREAM Act. The GOP is betting that Rubio, recently dubbed the party’s “savior" by Time Magazine, will put a young, dynamic, Latino face on a Republican party whose brand remains badly tarnished.”

President Obama and Vice President Biden were both sworn in quietly today. The real pomp and ceremony will follow on Monday, which will include a public taking of oath as well as the Inaugural address and a parade, parties, and more. 

Here’s some reading to get ready for Monday’s ceremony. 

Christian Science Monitor has highlights of past second term inaugural addresses.

Princeton’s Julian Zelizer  writes about what Obama can learn from Lincoln, Wilson and FDR.

KCRW has this collection of what Obama should tackle in his 2nd term.

In last night’s final debate, it wasn’t the challenger who went on the offensive as much as the incumbent.  President Obama called Mitt Romney ”wrong and reckless,” and tried to associate him with policies of the past. Romney said US influence is “receding” around the world, but blamed the economy. On foreign affairs, he was all about peace, in both style and content, but he did not offer policies much different from those of Obama. Was he intimidated, inexperienced or reassuring voters he would not be a warmonger? Was Obama aggressive out of desperation? Did the world learn much last night about how the US might deal with crucial issues over the next four years?


Mitt Romney jumped a bit in the polls after last week’s debate, while the President and top advisers concede it was not his best performance. But they’re promising a different outcome with two more debates to go. Meantime, what about that passivity and lack of energy? Is it evidence that Barack Obama doesn’t really isn’t enjoying the job, not just the give and take of debating but getting others to bend to his will? Was Republican Governor Romney any better at working with Democrats in Massachusetts than the President’s been at dealing with Congress?


In Colorado this morning, President Obama gave an energetic stump speech, but even Democrats agree he was uninspired in last night’s debate compared to Mitt Romney. Republicans are cheering Romney’s aggressive performance, and both sides are wondering why the President failed to seize several obvious opportunities. Was he out of practice?  Was it part of his campaign strategy?  Will a different Obama turn up the next time around? In the meantime, can Romney use positive news coverage to establish a lead among potential American voters?


KCRW and To the Point hosted a live chat during last night’s presidential debate and, as has been widely reported, our guests pretty much agreed that it was Mitt Romney’s night.

Writer and comedian Rachel Hastings put it this way, “LOOK ALIVE, OBAMA!”

The debate began with banter about the Obama’s wedding anniversary. In our live chat, comedian W. Kamau Bell took note, “And within seconds President Obama reminds the American public that his wife is awesome.”’s Joshua Treviño added, “Look, when you’re married long enough, sometimes you have anniversaries like this.”

Then things got wonky. The debate format was set up so each topic would consist of 15 minutes of debate. But things quickly got a little out of control and moderator Jim Lehrer didn’t do the best job of reigning things in, as journalist Farai Chideya noted, “Jim Lehrer is trying so hard to rein the pols in, and they are so hotfooting it around his instructions.”

Speaking of Lehrer PBS and the like, KCRW listeners did not like it when Mitt Romney said he’d cut subsidies to PBS, didn’t like it at all.

Carolyn Denise Gayle @cdenisegayle tweeted:  Ah damn! Not Big Bird, Mitt better watch his back on YouTube - you know the Muppets don’t play #debates #KCRW

And a Big Bird meme was born…

The debate lacked the fireworks we were hoping for, and more importantly,  it was short on facts. The Washington Post has a good rundown of how the candidates fudged the truth to appeal to voters on everything from tax cuts to Medicaid to job creation. Check that out here. 

Our commentators were surprised that Obama didn’t mention Mitt Romney’s 47% comment, were you?

And Variety’s Ted Johnson wrapped things up, saying: 

The verdict: This was Romney’s debate. Obama was off his mark, even more so than in the three debates he had with John McCain. The first debate favors the challenger, but this definitely gave Romney an opening and he took it. Obama seemed unrehearsed, tentative and sometimes just not clear. Romney seemed more in command of the facts, and for a campaign that has been criticized for not having details, he came across as having them, even if that meant sacrificing Big Bird.

Thanks for following our chat last night! Want more? You can read the whole thing RIGHT HERE.

-Caitlin Shamberg, producer, “To the Point”

The irony here… is that we’ve gone from an election that Romney has been trying to win just by not being Obama to one in which Obama, apparently, is prevailing just by not being Romney.
Feeling a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning.
President Obama, criticizing Republicans at the DNC

What are you doing in May, 2013?


President Obama and the First Lady on Kiss Cam. Taken at the Verizon Center. July 16, 2012.

(via marginsinthenotes-deactivated20)