News / USA

Obama Shifts To Political Center

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address, Jan 25 2011
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address, Jan 25 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

Political analysts say President Barack Obama continued his move to the political center Tuesday with his State of the Union Address to Congress.  But experts say the prospects for bipartisanship and cooperation between the president and opposition Republicans remain uncertain.

The annual State of the Union speech is always a combination of policy priorities and political theatre.  And this year’s speech had a twist with many lawmakers from both parties sitting together as a sign of solidarity in the wake of the recent shooting tragedy in Arizona in which six people were killed and several others wounded including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The national political climate seems to have cooled a bit since the Giffords shooting, and President Obama used the moment to make a fresh appeal for unity and cooperation.

“We will move forward together or not at all, for the challenges we face are bigger than party and bigger than politics," said President Obama.

New political reality in Washington

Mr. Obama is dealing with a new political reality in Washington that includes Republican control of the House of Representatives and a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate.

The singular Republican focus since last November’s election has been undoing the president’s health care law and shrinking the size of the federal government.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan delivered the official Republican response to the president’s speech.

“We are at a moment where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century," said Congressman Ryan.

Tensions between Republicans and Tea Party

But in another odd twist, there was a second response from Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who spoke on behalf of Tea Party groups around the country.

“Because of you, Congress is responding and we are just beginning to start to undo the damage that has been done in the last few years," said Congresswoman Bachmann.

The Tea Party movement played a critical role in mobilizing voters in the November midterm election that led to Republican gains in Congress.  But tensions between Tea Party supporters and Republican congressional leaders could emerge down the line if Congress fails to enact the deep budget cuts that Tea Party supporters are demanding.

Political moderates saw signs of hope in the president’s State of the Union speech.  Republican political strategist Mark McKinnon is co-founder of a centrist group called No Labels that promotes bipartisan cooperation:

“We think that there is a real thaw in the political climate in Washington and we think that thaw will lead to greater discussion and ultimately solutions to the problems we are facing," said McKinnon.

McKinnon says political independents around the country seem to be backing President Obama again, in part because of bipartisan successes at the end of the last Congress and in part because of the restrained political mood in the wake of the shooting tragedy in Tucson, Arizona.

“There is no question that he is being rewarded for moving to the [political] middle," he said. "He has moved to the center much more quickly than [former President] Bill Clinton did at this time in his presidency.  It took Bill Clinton about six months to a year to pivot to the center and President Obama has done it in just a matter of a couple of months after the midterm elections.”

President Bill Clinton faced a similar political challenge when Democrats lost control of Congress to Republicans in 1994.  After a period of confrontation that included two government shutdowns, Mr. Clinton and congressional Republicans were able to find common ground on issues like trade and welfare reform.

Other analysts believe the tempered political rhetoric will be a short-term phenomenon.

John Fortier with the American Enterprise Institute expects both political parties to increasingly focus on the 2012 presidential election in the months to come.

“Some smaller opportunities for the two parties to work together, but also looking ahead to that election where we know things are going to pick up in terms of the politics of things, where things will be harder to get done, and the two parties will be looking to have great contrasts for that 2012 election," said Fortier.

Mr. Obama was at a low point in the polls shortly after last year’s midterm victories by Republicans.  But experts note how fast his poll numbers have rebounded in recent weeks, a lesson to both parties that in U.S. politics, change is often just around the corner.  

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid