President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address to Congress on Wednesday evening. Mandated by the Constitution, the address is a major event in any year. But with Obama facing serious challenges in health care and the economy--not to mention grim-looking November 2010 election prospects for his party--this State of the Union is particularly important. Many commentators are offering their advice on what Obama should say to make a crucial speech count.

  • Set Concrete, Achievable Policy Goals The Guardian's Michael Tomasky says now is not the time for lofty rhetoric or abstractions. "It's about the reality he is in, and how he is going to respond to it. This speech won't be judged on the basis of the capital-V Vision, but on the clarity of eyesight about very concrete things." Obama should explain exactly how he will approach health care, the economy, and the gridlock in Congress.
  • Recapture Big-Picture Ambitions of 2008 In Slate, Eliot Spitzer warns Obama against giving in to short-term poll fluctuations. "It would be grievous error for the president to abandon the broad reform agenda that brought him to the White House in exchange for small-bore reforms that could muster the appearance of bipartisan support. The changes we now need in financial services, health care, and education are still fundamental."
  • End Don't Ask, Don't Tell Politico's Ben Smith points out that ending "don't ask, don't tell," the controversial Clinton-era policy of booting gay servicemen and women from the military, "has the benefit not just of being free, but of saving money." Reports have indicates that the program can cost between $20-30 million per year.
  • If You Address One Foreign Policy Topic... Council of Foreign Relations President Richard Haass says it should be Iran. He concedes domestic issues will dominate, but if Obama makes time for one foreign topic, it shouldn't be the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Iran will prove to be the most compelling foreign policy issue of 2010," he says. "The administration has to be careful. It has to be smart. But I do think there's a case for supporting the opposition."
  • Um, Pass Health Care? Liberal blogger Joe Sudbay reminds the president about that whole health care thing. Sudbay says a push from Obama would demonstrate that he cares about making this happen. "Not too long ago the White House was planning to make the State of the Union a victory speech on health care. Not anymore. The content isn't the only thing that matters in this speech. We need to see a President with conviction."
  • Sing Coldplay Songs That's the actual suggestion by National Review writer Iain Murray at his Freedom Action blog. As of this writing, the National Review has offered no other ideas.