Obama to deliver State of the Union address

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

President Barack Obama is set to deliver his final State of the Union address Tuesday where he is expected to both frame his legacy and define his vision for the country’s future.

The speech will begin at 8 p.m. and be streamed online via whitehouse.gov as well as broadcast live by major networks, cable news channels and National Public Radio.

Likely topics include gun control, environment and trade issues and the recent national job report, according to the Politico website.

Richard Wandling, chair of the political science department, said Obama has sought to have an active agenda in the latter years of his administration, so people should listen for new proposals.

He said he expects Obama to follow in the footsteps of presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton by remaining politically engaged at the national and international level.

Leaving a favorable legacy would enhance Obama’s credentials for whatever he has planned for the future, Wandling said.

“I think he doesn’t plan on just riding off into the sunset,” Wandling said. “He’s still a relatively young man. He will be involved for decades to come in policy issues.”

Students in particular should pay attention to any mention of higher education initiatives or funding for students, Wandling said.

Obama is also expected to comment on climate change, which Wandling said is another highlight that should interest students.

“(Climate change) is certainly an issue that’s important to the generation of our students, an issue that will be important throughout the remainder of our lives,” he said.

As Obama’s second term is coming to a close, a significant aspect of this speech will be its implications on the November election.

“He knows that continuing his agenda depends on having a Democrat in office,” Wandling said. “So he obviously is going to be concerned about setting the stage for a Democratic victory, whether it’s candidate (Hillary) Clinton or candidate (Bernie) Sanders.”

According to The New York Times, Obama wants to assist Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination by generating support for his approach to pressing political issues, even though this may not lead to further action during his term.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will be the Republican to give the brief post-address response.

“It’s pretty safe to assume that all the Republican Party candidates are going to be staking out some position one way or the other on it, and we can imagine that the response won’t be exactly favorable to President Obama’s perspective,” Wandling said.

He said viewers should also look at the reception from Congress, such as who is applauding, and try to gauge the overall climate while the speech is being delivered.


Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]