As America braces for an address that tends to be uneventful, here's what Washington's major constituencies would like Obama to talk about.
What is the point of the State of the Union?
The president's annual address to Congress tends to be a laundry list of policy priorities that fails to make much of a splash either inside the Capitol or with the broader public. His opponents are only listening to find things to take issue with, and his allies are mostly just hoping he tosses a mention to their pet causes.
This year's State of the Union isn't likely to be a grandly ideological call to action -- President Obama already accomplished that with his inaugural address last month. Nor is it likely to be the occasion for a radical reorientation of his presidency. The White House appears to believe things are going well for Obama right now, with Republicans on the ropes and action under way on a slew of priorities. Spoiler alert: Obama is overwhelmingly likely to announce that the state of the Union is strong.
Nonetheless, we will be listening for clues to the path forward. I surveyed a few activists of varying perspectives to find out what they were hoping to hear from Obama on Tuesday. Was there anything he could say that would please the right, for example? (Not really -- the conservatives I surveyed said they wouldn't be satisfied unless Obama had a total change of heart and began embracing right-wing positions, which seems unlikely.) Would the left be looking for any specific commitments? (They're happy these days, but wouldn't mind a shout-out for campaign-finance reform, they say.)