Confirmed: Divisive president to deliver "aggressive" SOTU speech

This doesn’t mean it won’t be overlong, enervating, and instantly disposable like the last four were, just more peevish than usual. It’ll also be an occasion for O to “pivot to jobs” for the seventh or eighth time in his presidency, which I take it means 15-20 minutes about the middle class and the latest iteration of the Buffett Rule before he gets back to the stuff that really drives him, like banning assault weapons and creating an earned amnesty for illegals.

Emboldened by electoral victory and convinced the GOP is unwilling to cut deals, Obama plans to use his big prime-time address Tuesday night to issue another broad challenge at a Republican Party he regards as vulnerable and divided, Democrats close to Obama say…

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.”…

That strategy could be dangerous. If Obama is perceived as too partisan, he’ll lose some of his personal popularity, which is the source of his political capital. But congressional Democrats actually fret about the opposite scenario — with several senior party aides telling POLITICO they fear Obama will fold on key issues, like entitlement cuts, if the GOP decides to bargain with him.

He won’t lose popularity, or at least not because of this. One of Obama’s few real rhetorical gifts is his knack for dumping on opponents stridently while not sounding strident. He’s always cultivated a cool-headed, above-the-fray, “adult in the room” image — it was key to his post-partisan shtick circa 2008 — and he does a solid job of maintaining it for the benefit of low-information voters who don’t follow politics closely day to day. There’ll be plenty of “we are one America” in this speech to cushion the “Republicans are destroying America” verbiage, and that’ll work just fine for casual watchers. Plus, if he throws some red meat to the left, he can count on some flattering post-speech coverage no matter how dull the proceedings get. There’s already buzz in political media about him taking on climate change tomorrow night. That’ll go nowhere in Congress, but luckily the press has had a revelation about the benefits of unilateral executive action since he took office.

Here’s Rand Paul previewing the tea-party rebuttal to O’s speech and addressing his perceived rivalry with Rubio. Exit question: Does Obama’s aggressiveness give Rubio more room for counter-aggression in the GOP response? Per Politico, “With Obama signaling a more confrontational approach, Rubio has apparently scrapped his first draft and settled on a tougher tack, according to former Bush administration operative Nicolle Wallace, appearing on ABC’s ‘This Week.'”