Ready for the SOTU jobs pivot?

posted at 12:01 pm on February 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Tonight, one of the grandest and emptiest of presidential traditions returns — the State of the Union address to the joint session of Congress.  The annual report is required by the Constitution, but not in person; until 1913, Presidents usually sent a written status report.  We can thank Woodrow Wilson for the modern tradition, which hits its centennial this year, but let’s face it: as soon as television arrived, this was going to be the norm no matter what.

What can we expect? National Journal’s George Condon gets it right in the lead paragraph:

When President Obama takes to the speaker’s rostrum on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday evening, you can expect him to speak for more than an hour. But don’t bet on him saying anything you’ll remember a month later.

Or anything Obama will remember, either. In my column for The Week, I predict that we’ll see all of the usual pomp and rhetorical mechanics, plus a new innovation from Barack Obama — the Annual SOTU Jobs Pivot:

These aspects of the State of the Union speech have become every bit as traditional as the speech itself. But thanks to President Obama, to those traditions we can add another: the annual pivot to jobs. Indeed, The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Obama would once again try to give the impression that his central policy focus is on job creation.

“President Obama will concentrate his State of the Union speech Tuesday on the economy, shifting the emphasis away from the broad social agenda of his second inaugural address to refocus attention on a set of problems that vexed his first term,” wrote the Post‘s Scott Wilson. “Several senior administration officials involved in the speech say he will use his fourth State of the Union address to talk about jobs after the national unemployment rate ticked up last month.”

If that sounds familiar, it should. With every State of the Union address, and with many other scheduled speeches from President Obama, the White House insists that he will return to the issues of jobs and the economy that worry Americans most. Each time, however, the focus promised by Obama ends up diverted back into the “broad social agenda” which most interests Obama.

How seriously can we take this? Well …

Over the last three months since the election, the White House has tried to claim that Obama has refocused on job creation. In late November, Obama proposed a hiring subsidy that had been kicking around for a couple of years without success, and which would have little impact on hiring decisions. However, it quickly became clear that the second Obama term would have other priorities, such as climate change. In fact, Obama highlighted that issue in his inaugural speech, while only mentioning “jobs” three times, none of them in the context of prioritizing job creation. Obama included the word “economy” only once, and only to say that “a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers” — to provide a rationale for expanded government spending.

Finally, we can see what priority the Obama administration planned to give jobs in the second term by the disbanding of the president’s “Jobs Council.” It had only met four times, and there is no evidence that Obama even considered any advice it might have offered. Until the announcement of economic contraction in the fourth quarter that came in the same week, it was clear that Obama had no real interest in an agenda that prioritized economic growth over his progressive agenda.

Let’s just say that the President talks a lot about jobs and the economy in SOTU speeches.  He’s not interested in actually doing anything about it, or at least not as interested as he is in his social-policy agenda of climate change, gun control, and the like.

The media is also tamping down expectations of actual impact from tonight’s effort, too:

Rarely have State of the Union addresses moved public opinion, and rarely have they led to the kind of broad legislative accomplishments that presidents propose. For all the ritual and attention surrounding these speeches, the State of the Union is, well, sort of lame.

“Most of the speeches can be summarized in three words: boring, boring, boring,” said Allan Lichtman, author of “The 13 Keys to the Presidency.” “They tend to be laundry lists. But sometimes they rise above that.” …

In his 2012 speech, Obama proposed that every state require that students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18, a recommendation that also fell flat.

That wasn’t the only proposal that Obama abandoned as soon as the cameras turned off.  Remember the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group from a year ago?  Neither does Obama:

A year ago, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised to sic a task force of prosecutors on Wall Street firms, offering up some election-year red meat by targeting the bad guys who bundled toxic mortgages and sold them as solid investments during the financial crisis.

But as Obama prepares to address the nation again, on Tuesday night, his Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group has more words in its name than wins in court. …

So, all in all, the RMBS Working Group, which has five co-chairs, has been a stereotypical interagency Washington task force.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of the co-chairs, got so fed up with Justice that he went directly to the White House last summer to plead for more investigators, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

“Did you get a copy of their report? It’s pretty good, isn’t it?” Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) joked sarcastically about the lack of output from the task force. “It’s a political stunt by the administration, which is what [Obama] has done during his State of the Union addresses.”

In other words, the SOTU is just … other words.  Jim VanDeHei appeared on Morning Joe to discuss tonight’s speech, and to issue skepticism over whether Obama will make any impact with an expected plea for gun control legislation:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Background checks will move forward regardless of what Obama says in tonight’s SOTU speech; there is too much of a political consensus for tightening the requirements on sales. Obama can only damage that consensus tonight by taking ownership of it during the speech. Otherwise, this will be yet another forgettable laundry list, in a script that one can write from memory regarding applause lines, special guests, and the momentarily overwhelming attention to a speech that will almost immediately become nothing more than a reference material for noting unfulfilled promises — especially on the economy, as has been the case now for four years.

Update: Senator Ron Johnson predicts what the President won’t say:

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that between 2014 to 2018, Americans will pay $1.77 trillion of their hard earned money, just to pay the interest. The Congressional Budget Office then estimated that the interest we all will pay in the five years after 2018 is $3.64 trillion – about the size of our entire federal budget in 2012 and an estimated cost of $30,000 per current household over that five-year period.

Just to remind you again, that money can’t be used for government programs or defense of the nation. It doesn’t even pay off or reduce Washington’s debt. It merely pays interest to our money lenders.

This is not a partisan issue. Both major parties have helped create that debt. Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or independent, the debt impacts you. Whether you are conservative, moderate or liberal, we are all in the same economic boat and we will sink or float together.

Washington has been unwise, irresponsible and greedy. That much is not even debatable. The real questions are: Do the American people have the wisdom Washington lacks? Will the American people demand that the professional political class in Washington kick its addiction to spending money it does not have and stop endangering the economic security of the very people they purport to represent?

On Tuesday night, President Obama will address many issues in his State of the Union address. I can promise you he will try to sell Americans on increasing taxes again. He will talk about “investing in America,”, which is Washington political window dressing for increased Washington spending and future debt.

President Obama will outline more things Washington can do for you. In fact, he’ll declare that these are things Washington should do for you.

What he won’t address – at least honestly address – is the fine print of his contract. He won’t address the massive suffering that will result if this nation does not get its financial house in order. He won’t say that his plans do not include reduced spending and smaller government in Washington. He won’t lay out the problem of debt or how Washington can begin mitigating and then reducing the true cost of that debt and put this nation back on a path of enduring prosperity.

He may mention this, if only to blame it on the unfairness of the tax system.


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Unprecedented…

Drained Brain on February 12, 2013 at 12:03 PM

..no.

I am so-o-o-o-o over this clown and all of the Bozos (R & D) in DC.

The War Planner on February 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

It’s not a pivot…

it is the Hokey Pokey.

Snowblind on February 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

TWEEETTT!!!

Traveling!! Blue, Number 0.

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Yep, another “memorable” and “historic” speech that no one will be able to remember 5 minutes later.

GarandFan on February 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Ready for the SOTU jobs pivot?

You mean “jobs divot”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

The Inaugural wasw such a winner, he should just repeat it.
/s

Jabberwock on February 12, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Think he can keep it at or above the Eighth Grade level ?

I love those analysis.

Jabberwock on February 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Tonight’s State of the Union Address is going to reflect the accomplishments and substance of President Barack Hussein Obama (mm mmm mmmm).

In other words…an empty suit making empty promises…a big bag of nothing.

kingsjester on February 12, 2013 at 12:11 PM

President Romney is going to give a heck of a SOTU address.

portlandon on February 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Time for another round of Barack’s Bullsh*t Bingo!

/Glad I quit drinking.

Key West Reader on February 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

This will be what…. his 5th or 6th pivot to jobs?

Yeah…. he’s focused like a laser or something.

UltimateBob on February 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Like a laser beam!

NoLeftTurn on February 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

The media is also tamping down expectations of actual impact from tonight’s effort, too

don’t tell that to msdnc talking heads….he’s going to get in the gop’s face

STRAWMEN STRAWMEN STRAWMEN

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

7%, countdown begins….

:)

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Man did ‘ol Clint nail it or what? Empty suit, empty chair, empty everything.

DanMan on February 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Can’t wait for the speech, it will prevent me from channel surfing during commercials while watching re-runs of The Office and Big Bang Theory.

bsinc1962 on February 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Chris Matthews will remember the multiple orgasms he gets from hearing Obama’s voice.

The Rogue Tomato on February 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Let’s just say that the President talks a lot about jobs and the economy in SOTU speeches. He’s not interested in actually doing anything about it, or at least not as interested as he is in his social-policy agenda of climate change, gun control, and the like.

Words, just words.

Bitter Clinger on February 12, 2013 at 12:18 PM

7%, countdown begins….

:)

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Someone’s gotta do it. I don’t know if I can listen to another Obama STFU speech.

Fallon on February 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM

portlandon on February 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

You’re a troublemaker, buddy. :)

kingsjester on February 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM

“What difference does it make now?”

Bmore on February 12, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Since it’s now all about jobs, I wonder if he’ll also pivot to decrying workplace violence in places like Fort Hood.

Drained Brain on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Move along, nothing new and/or meaningful to see. And remember, everything he says has an expiration date.

sadatoni on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

SOTU Speeches- Yet another reason to hate Woodrow Wilson. As if one were needed.

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Republican’s should boycott.

Mr. Arrogant on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

It’s not a jobs pivot. It’s a jobs pirouette.

And I can’t wait for the paeons of praise to be heeped on our Lord and Savior and President for Life Barrack Obama by the pundits who couldn’t repeat one phrase from any previous Obama SOTU address and won’t be able to repeat any from this one by next week.

Curtiss on February 12, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Fallon on February 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM

not me…will watch Downton Abbey, saved it on the DVR…

will be looking to the HA open thread tonight though…

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Wait don’t tell me, it will be more jobs in the public sector ie Gov jobs. That is all the Dems know how to create. Just words is all we will hear, blah blah blah.

jake49 on February 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Is Obama talented enough to combine Hispandering with the jobs pivot?

Fallon on February 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Obama pivoting to jobs = OJ looking for the real killers.

Robert_Paulson on February 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM

“Great JEORB Homestar!” – Coach Z

JOB… JOB… JOB… JOB…

LOOK, A SQUIRREL!

Marcola on February 12, 2013 at 12:29 PM

It’ll be just like any of his other appearances: A big commercial for himself. The MSM, of course, will sing his praises with hosannas to him, show angels streaking across the sky writing his name among the stars, and all the talking heads will say they got tingles up their legs.

I can’t wait to miss this three-ring circus in favor of some low-budget horror flick.

Liam on February 12, 2013 at 12:30 PM

He’s already dealt with jobs. We had the stimulus and then OCare.

No more jobs.

Mission Accomplished.

CorporatePiggy on February 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM

So, all in all, the RMBS Working Group, which has five co-chairs, has been a stereotypical interagency Washington task force.

Five co-chairs? Then it was never intended to actually get anything done. Purely for show. Two co-chairs is bad enough, five is simply ridiculous.

rbj on February 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM

100% chance he talks about Congress needing to pay the pills it has run up.

100% chance he’ll blame his “predecessor”.

100% chance he’ll mentioned a balanced approach. He’ll devote one sentence to claiming he’s already cut spending by over 2 trillion and calling for a little more. He’ll spend 5 minutes talking about “more investments”.

gwelf on February 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Is Obama talented enough to combine Hispandering with the jobs pivot?

Fallon on February 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Hispandering is a great word that’s new to me – pandering to Hispanics.

Drained Brain on February 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM

If Obama pivots any more he will become unhinged.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

It will be more ideologically tilted than his re-immaculation.
It will contain more twisting of republican principles into progressive imperatives.
It will call for more class warfare.

gwelf on February 12, 2013 at 12:41 PM

A report to congress is required by law. So is a budget. A speech he can do. But a budget? Budgets are hard.

So we get a speech and no budget…again…Figures.

Lily on February 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Rarely have State of the Union addresses moved public opinion, and rarely have they led to the kind of broad legislative accomplishments that presidents propose. For all the ritual and attention surrounding these speeches, the State of the Union is, well, sort of lame.

That’s because Congress is lame and the invited guests are only there to sell some point in the laundry list. I’m sure Sarah and Jim Brady or some other anti-American traitor will be in the audience to pan the camera toward when talking about banning guns and gutting the Constitution. There will probably be a group of illegals that benefited from the EO doing an end run on the DREAM act. Maybe even the guy whose wife caught cancer from Mitt Romney to focus on when jobs get mentioned.

If you want jazzier SOTU speeches, start with the guest list. Make it like the Oscars, Grammies, and Tony Awards all rolled into one giant glittering event. Fill the gallery with the likes of Honey Boo Boo, the Kardashian clan, rappers, singers, movie stars, etc.

And stop asking the President to give a speech about the state of the country because how could it not be anything but “super awesome” after four years as a dictatorship? Just let the man talk about whatever he wants, tell a few jokes, maybe get a few dance acts in for intermission and generally just let the nation bask in the glow of its beloved leader. Perhaps it is even time rename it from SOTU to “chillin with the Prezee.”

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

I don’t care. I DON’T care. I DON’T CARE!! I cannot bring myself to listen to this tool, this LIAR, and this marxist. Just the sound of his voice makes me want to vomit. I’ll take what I read from HA to find out what propaganda and lies the dog-eater spewed to the rest of the worthless idiots in the room and across the country. Besides, It gets BOOOOOORRRRRRING! having to suffer through the endless number of times the party faithful rise to their feet in applause, no matter which one is in power. It’s the most exercise these congressional drones ever get, except for the money-grubbing hand to wallet daily routine they do…

HiJack on February 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM

A report to congress is required by law. So is a budget. A speech he can do. But a budget? Budgets are hard.

So we get a speech and no budget…again…Figures.

Lily on February 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

To be fair, the rat-eared wonder has submitted the “President’s budget” to Congress. These were decidedly unserious documents with unrealistic spending but they were submitted. It is Harry Reid that is the lawbreaker here. He has refused any attempt to get a budget out of the Senate.

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Bush will be mentioned
Inheritance too

Tingles will be swooning

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

New nickname for Obama “coco puff”
All sugar and no substance…..

Yahoo for Coco Puffs!

Husker_red on February 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Republican’s should boycott.

Mr. Arrogant on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

No, that would be rude. They should show up and mess with the rat-eared bastard by applauding at random meaningless times. Anybody can applaud on cue but to do so when it makes no sense would really get inside his head.

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

I hope Barry’s quiver is full and he uses it to full effect. His thirst for Rushmore has him intoxicated.

Limerick on February 12, 2013 at 12:54 PM

I’ll be watching The Food Network….

ladyingray on February 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Ready for the SOTU jobs pivot?

It’s not a pivot. It’s a pirouette and a clumsy, ‘Benny Hill’ like one at that.

Dusty on February 12, 2013 at 1:03 PM

New nickname for Obama “coco puff”
All sugar and no substance…..

Yahoo for Coco Puffs!

Husker_red on February 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

And CHOCOLATE! ROFL!

HiJack on February 12, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Ready for the SOTU jobs pivot?

Obama: “And I promise to you that I will finally focus on jobs like a shark with a freakin’ lazer beam on its head”
*cue scattered applause*

Ukiah on February 12, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Republican’s should boycott.

Mr. Arrogant on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

No, that would be rude. They should show up and mess with the rat-eared bastard by applauding at random meaningless times. Anybody can applaud on cue but to do so when it makes no sense would really get inside his head.

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

But that wouldn’t be rude? Of course it would, but it would be hilarious to boot. Do it, GOP, you gutless wonders.

HiJack on February 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

I’ll be watching The Food Network….

ladyingray on February 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM

I just checked the schedule. Tonight is The Michelle Arugula Marathon night.

Limerick on February 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM

I’ll just be waiting for 10:00 pm EST to roll around to watch Justified.

BuckeyeSam on February 12, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM

While it is true that unlike the senate, he has submitted budgets. It is also true that, while they weren’t written in actual crayon, they got as many votes as a crayon budget would have. It is also true that this year’s presidential budget will be late, like most of his others have been. He said he would send one down, like, whenever. Probably sometime after Jack Lew learns to write like a 5th grader.

The Speech, however, will not be late. Long, but not late.

Lily on February 12, 2013 at 1:17 PM

I just checked the schedule. Tonight is The Michelle Arugula Marathon night.

Limerick on February 12, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Noooooo!

Okay, you got me. Thankfully, it’s Chopped Champions Parts 1-4, and the Finale. That may be where I end up tonight, too.

Fallon on February 12, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Nothing this guy speaks has any legitimacy, functional utility or truth. Just more of the same old Party line liberal babble.

rplat on February 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Only reason to watch the STFU speech tonight: Will Obama attempt to go after Dr. Carson and his “rude” ideas?

Fallon on February 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

The only thing that could make it better is to have Pelosi and Shultz-Wasserman dressed in Catholic school girl uniforms with pom-poms in the background cheering, “you go Prizzi”. It may be a reruns night.

DDay on February 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM

If Obama pivots any more he will become unhinged.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

He’s already unhinged.

We should just start calling him the Pivot boy.

UltimateBob on February 12, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Time for Goundhog day.

acyl72 on February 12, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Oh man, he’s pivoting to jobs again? Since he’s a sitting President and pivoting so much that he’s spinning, should we just call him President Sit ‘n’ Spin?

Battlecruiser-operational on February 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM

So when will the GOP realize that he can’t pivot if he is surrounded?
Naw, they’ll play the Good-Ol-Boy Art of War….leave a bridge open.

Limerick on February 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Thats what I’ll be watching, Fallon.

ladyingray on February 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Prediction: If Obama uses the word “balanced”, it will NOT be followed by the word “budget”.

If Obama uses the word “balanced”, it will be in combination with the word “approach”, or “way”, and what he really means is that he wants more tax hikes and no real cuts to spending. When he talks about “cuts”, he will talk about them over a 10 year time period (even though he is forbidden by the Constitution from serving past January 20, 2017, less than four years from now), and he will be talking about cuts to baseline increases (which means they aren’t real cuts at all).

ITguy on February 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Is this the pivot we have been looking for?

yenober on February 12, 2013 at 2:05 PM

No, these are not the pivots we are looking for. Move along.

yenober on February 12, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Turner Classic Movies has “Citizen Kane” and “Notorious” on back-to-back tonight starting at 8 PM. Rosebud!

Del Dolemonte on February 12, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Anyone want to bet that Ted Nugent faces a tougher security check then the 3 illegals who will be in attendance?

What’s the over/under on Nugent yelling “You Lie!”? Probably the only way possible that a camera catches him in attendance, as they will be exclusively focused on shooting victims and Newtown residents.

weaselyone on February 12, 2013 at 3:34 PM

The SOTU is liberal propaganda.
“No, the SOTU is a painful root canal”.
No. The SOTU is liberal propaganda!
“NO! It’s a painful root canal!!”
LIBERAL PROPAGANDA!
“ROOT CANAL!”

Relax. The SOTU is BOTH liberal proapganda and a painful root canal.

RSbrewer on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Prediction: If Obama uses the word “balanced”, it will NOT be followed by the word “budget”.

If Obama uses the word “balanced”, it will be in combination with the word “approach”, or “way”, and what he really means is that he wants more tax hikes and no real cuts to spending. When he talks about “cuts”, he will talk about them over a 10 year time period (even though he is forbidden by the Constitution from serving past January 20, 2017, less than four years from now), and he will be talking about cuts to baseline increases (which means they aren’t real cuts at all).

ITguy on February 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

That wasn’t very hard to predict, and here is Obama’s one and only use of the word “balanced” in his State of the Union 2013 speech…

broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share. And that’s the approach I offer tonight.

He has no interest in a balanced budget. His interest is in Socialist taxation policies to force some pay more (what he considers their “fair share”) while he redistributes their wealth to others (“spread the wealth around”).

Obama, as both Senator and pResident, has been a part of the Democrat majorities that are now responsible for the SIX BIGGEST DEFICITS IN U.S. HISTORY (FY 2008 – 2013, and Democrats have held 2+ of the House, Senate, and Presidency all six of those years).

ITguy on February 14, 2013 at 9:22 AM