President Obama gives the annual State of the Union address tonight. Commentators have already given pointers on how to nail it and imagined themselves in the president's shoes. Now, in a more realistic mode, they are laying out their expectations. Some of the expectations are rote, some are high hopes unlikely to be fulfilled. The conservative lobby group Americans for Tax Reform has provided cheeky Obama Bingo cards. What will you be watching for?
- Insist on Passing Health Care The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan wants to know if Obama has the "courage" to push. "Does he use every ounce of political capital to pass this bill, the cornerstone of his reform agenda, the failure of which will mean the end to any grappling with the health insurance crisis for another generation." He sees this as an ultimate "test of leadership" for the president. "I have one simple test: if the health bill dies from neglect and irresolution, Obama is no leader."
- Don't Throw Around Blame The "blame Bush" strategy has been enjoying a resurgence. But Balloon Juice's liberal blogger Tim F. is one of many to say it's a bad idea. He puts it colorfully: "Maybe someone did contribute to this present clusterf*ck more than someone else; if so I don’t really know or particularly care. It feels like a waste of time to piss on him or her or them while the game has minutes on the clock."
- Make Jobs Priority #1 Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey says Obama has to reshuffle priorities, with job growth on top. "If he doesn’t get back on top of the crisis and hit jobs jobs jobs repeatedly, voters will conclude that he’s simply more concerned about himself and his policy hobby horses than in the country itself." Otherwise, "expect an immediate backlash among the commentariat, both Right and Left."
- Jobs Bill Good news for Ed Morrissey: Politico's Glenn Thrush passes along "talking points" primarily concerned with "restoring security for middle class families" and promoting job growth. This will include calls for Congress to "pass a jobs bill to jumpstart private sector job creation."
- Appeal to Disaffected Liberals AOL News wants him to reach out. "The lack of liberal turnout -- the so-called enthusiasm gap -- was one big reason why Democrats lost races in Virginia, New Jersey and, most recently and consequentially, Massachusetts. And big losses could be in store for the party in November if it persists. But re-energizing the base without losing the rest of the country will take considerable finesse."
- Acknowledge Scott Brown The Wall Street Journal's Susan Davis requests a nod to the Republican who won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. "Will Obama acknowledge Brown’s win? Republicans hope so. It could also be his hook to discuss (renewed?) efforts for bipartisanship."
- Sympathy for 'Anger and Frustration' The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains in a video below that Obama will work hard to communicate his understanding of and sympathy for the rage and frustration seeping through the electorate.