As for everything that comes before that kicker: We can be pretty sure that Obama’s speech this year will be very much like the speech he gave last year, and the one before that, stretching back to the start of his first term — or even further, for those with longer memories — because his State of the Union remarks, like those of his presidential predecessors over the past two decades or so, have all followed roughly the same template.
Here’s the standard SOTU formula in a few simple steps: first, hit the economy and jobs. Circle through a laundry list of priorities, requests for congressional action, and new executive actions in the works. Throw in a few emotionally resonant stories of ordinary Americans doing things that serve a broader administration message. And land on a big, uplifting showstopper finish.
Obama’s first five annual addresses to Congress all followed this roadmap religiously.
It’s not that White Houses haven’t, over the years, tried to change the repetitive nature of the State of the Union — but the utilitarian nature of the speech dictates it remain largely unaltered.