President Obama’s State of the Union Address: Measures of Success


Measures of Success: President Obama’s State of the Union Address


In my book, Leadership the Barack Obama Way (McGraw-Hill, January 2010), we take a look at many outstanding leadership practices that helped fuel Obama’s meteoric rise to the U.S. presidency.  Have those notable leadership practices translated effectively to Obama’s work thus far as U.S. president? With his poll numbers dipping, many people have their doubts.  Pundits stand all too ready to declare that President Barack Obama is in the midst of a crisis of public confidence in his ability to deliver on his many campaign promises.  Obama has achieved many noteworthy successes, as I note elsewhere.  But in light of public trepidations about the U.S. economy and the future, and the by-product of these trepidations—waning confidence in the results of Obama’s presidency and leaderhip—Obama needs to use his State of the Union Address skillfully.  Among the tasks: Obama should set a positive tone, help reinforce flagging confidence in his commitment to bringing "change", and most of all, assure Americans he understands their concerns about the economy, expressing a deep commitment to helping to bring more jobs and turn the economy around.


Here are some useful measures by which to judge the success, or lack thereof, of Obama’s State of the Union address:


1. Does he focus on the core topics about which most people are concerned?  Remember, "It’s the economy, stupid."  He needs to get to the key issues quickly, and avoid spreading his words so broadly that they come across as "thin" on the issues of greatest importance to viewers.


2. Does he tackle head-on the issue of healthcare, in light of the fact that many Americans are nervous about proposed healthcare reforms and remain unconvinced that Obama’s plan is the right plan?  Does Obama make it clear that he heard the voices of the voters in Massachusetts and will be responsive?


3. Does Obama address and alleviate concerns that he is on a spending frenzy with little fiscal discipline?


4. Does Obama express deep commitment to bi-partisanship.  Many observers charge he has failed nearly entirely in creating bipartisan support for major legislation and reforms.


5. In tone and delivery, does he inspire others to trust his leadership?


6. Does Obama take responsibility for shortcomings?  Certainly, Obama inherited great challenges, but he must take responsibility for what has not occurred in his first year, in light of the promises he made.  He should accept responsibility while also trying to shed light on his first-year successes.


7. Importantly, does Obama manage expectations?  Does he set forth for the American people, in ways they can accept, a vision of what will be attainable in the short-term, and a clear portrait of the longer-term goals. This is very important. 


I look forward to commenting later on the success or lack thereof, of Obama’s State of the Union Address 2010.


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  • Liberal Democrat

    I sent this letter to President Obama by fax the other day.

    Dear President Obama

    I come to you today to praise you and to criticize you and to petition you.

    I want to tell you a true story which just happened a few days ago. I came into this world 4 years after World War II. When I grew up partly in New York City and Partly in Nassau Country New York, as a young boy I would watch Meet the Press. I watched this show as a boy of 6 or 7. I watched the people of the era talk about the issues. I also watched Mike Wallace's You are there as well. I recall seeing other programs about famous people. I saw newsreels of a man who wore a white sheet. NO! not that kind of white sheet! Mohandas Gandhi, wore a white sheet of cotton. Why did Gandhi wear white sheets? He wanted to set an example for his people to make their own cloth and not buy goods from his oppressors who occupied his country.

    He appeared a modern day Moses, but of another religion. I have a number of heroes like Gandhi. Most of them died, except for Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Considering myself a Jewish person, I find that good that people from other religions and other people's can serve as examples for heroes as it tends to unite people of different backgrounds. Each of these heroes, Moses, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu eventually brought their oppressors down by not cooperating with their oppressors.

    The other day, I spoke to the great grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. I had sought to speak to his father, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. I never expected to ever speak to anyone in this family of Gandhi. I told him that I thanked his great grandfather for his work and that he inspired me as I used to see newsreels of his great grandfather during the 1950's and 1960's and especially using boycotts to eventually uniting his people of India to eject their oppressors out of their country. I told Gandhi's great grandson of my electronic PAMPHLET on the web and again thanked him and said good day.

    Now, I say to you Mr. President, that I want a real populist President similar to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and I and other people will make you do it, just like FDR told his supporters to make him do what they wanted him to do.

    So in the tradition and inspiration of Moses and Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu and their people I say to you again we will make you do it.

    How? By boycotting the products of those of your friends in corporations who donated money to you, and donated money to Republicans and to conservatives in the Democratic party who have led this country down a path to the second great depression. The only reason that we have not descended further appears that we had citizens back about 77 years ago who made FDR do it and had good regulations in place today that the conservatives in both parties want to repeal. So from now on I will no longer donate money to the Democratic party although I remain a member. Again I will not buy products from major companies that donate money to conservatives in both parties and I will demand progressive legislation that really helps the poor and middle class people instead of the undeserving wealthy at this point of crisis in our country, of the CEOs that run those companies and until that happens they will lose business from me and many other people such that we will put pressure on those CEOs to help get us the legislation that we want.

    I agreed with the bailout of the banks and the partial nationalization of GM and Chrysler but now it appears OUR turn such that we get a $10 an hour minimum wage, a passage of the employee free choice act, a passage of the women's freedom of choice act, a passage of a compromise SINGLE PAYER PUBLIC OPTION paid for by general taxes which will allow private health insurance but in which those who choose this new single payer public option will have no premiums, no copayments, no yearly deductibles, no recisions, no rejection for preexisting conditions and cover everything: doctors visits, surgery, hospital stays, abortion, dentistry, eye care, nursing home and hospice care and home care and it will serve as a health insurance EXODUS so that the private health insurance companies will let our people go. We also need to end the war in Iraq and a way to end the war in Afghanistan but we need to help build Afghanistan up so the Taliban and Al Qaeda will no longer get the favor of some people in Afghanistan. We need other legislation that helps those less fortunate in our country.

    Republicans only talk about freedom but they offer us no real solutions. These Republican corporate masters only offer us FIEFDOM and wage slavery and a kind of slavery to insurers where they exploit the economic conditions of those who don't have enough money to pay for their insurance and not freedom. These Republican corporate masters offer their middle class and even poor supporters FREEDUMB organizing them in a rabble of misnamed fake populist Tea partiers for which those Boston patriots of a few centuries ago would probably say, hey these Republican FREEDUMB lovers HAVE REPRESENTATION, so what excuse do they have for disrupting government town halls that we helped to establish?

    Really Mr. President, those present day so called tea partiers appear a perversion of those real patriots that helped liberate our country a few centuries ago. Do these false tea partiers stand for a living wage? No. Do these false tea partiers stand for unions? No. Do these false tea partiers stand for helping those less fortunate in our country? No.

    These Recruited Republican FREEDUMB lovers claim that they appear PATRIOTs.

    I say NAY, those Recruited Republican rabble appear as

    stand PAT RIOTers

    disrupting government who attempt to help the less fortunate in our country. How many times have I seen or heard this Republican rabble express their contempt for the poor and less fortunate in the middle class? I have seen and heard such contempt by these conservatives for decades blaming most of the poor and less fortunate middle class for their own problems as an excuse to shift blame away from many corporations who disadvantage such people and also as an excuse to have government dissolve in the area of social justice.

    These Republican rabble stand PAT RIOTers want us to stand pat for their corporate masters to continue to profit on the suffering of people in many areas and not just health care. They want us to stand pat and yell no more higher taxes deliberately wanting the American people to not see the way corporate governors want to PRIVATELY TAX people with low pay aka Cheap labor aka wage theft not giving workers in many cases the worth of their work that they do and suppressing the organization of people in unions. These corporate governors also tax people privately with high prices in a cartel working with other corporate governors in fixing prices so even though you have a few companies in a sector of products you really have a polyopoly keeping PRIVATE TAXES high in a lot of product sectors. Yes high prices and low wages function as a PRIVATE TAXATION system run by private government which the Republicans support and come from and they have their stooges in the stand PAT RIOT movement to pose as as populists. NAY!

    So next time Republicans criticize our party for taxation in their miscommunications at election time we Democrats will remind the people that the Republicans continue to tax us PRIVATELY and raise these PRIVATE TAXES through POLYOPOLY, DUOPOLY, MONOPOLY, cheap labor and high prices and that Republicans need to get relieved of their power in government which they deliberately sabotage social programs through deliberate deficit creation through oil wars, unjust tax breaks for the wealthy and cutting of social programs. This deliberate deficit creation has gone on for 30 years now started by Ronald Reagan the miscommunicator and it has to stop. The Republicans create a huge deficit so when they get relieved of power then the Democrat has to clean up the mess and cannot or will not continue on the path of social justice or water it down such that supporters of Democrats get angry as they did in Bill Clinton's time and now yours!

    So Mr. President, we will make you promote real social justice and not catering to corporations in the quest for social justice and eliminate these so called public private partnerships that these corporations take too much money from the poor and less fortunate that the Republicans have done in the past years and until this day and create regular government programs that do not allow these corporations to leech upon the public and profit to the detriment of middle class and poor people.

    I have seen this in Medicare Part D and Medicare Disadvantage and now thanks to conservative Democrats we face this in the new health insurance and Pharmaceutical company enrichment act of 2010.

    No more Mr. President. No More.

    Help the middle class and the poor and until then, the Democratic party gets no money from me and in 2010 and 2012 I will go to the polls and only vote on referenda, meaning I will not vote for anyone for representative, senator and President. I will stay in the Democratic party and do what I can to rid us these conservatives in OUR party from power by peaceful means through boycotts of consumers products of their contributors that give them money and convince other Democrats to also boycott these contributors to conservatives in both parties and force these CEOs to go to congressional leaders and tell the leaders that hundreds of thousands of people will no longer buy from the CEOs companies until congress passes real progressive legislation that citizens want and have petitioned the CEOs for.

    In the end, Mr. President we will get this done peacefully and we will do everything peaceful to make you help us.

    In the tradition of Moses, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, we will get this done for social Justice for the less fortunate in our country. I encourage other people reading this open letter to the President to organize and petition the government and the CEOs of corporations that aid meanspirited conservatives in both parties to go to my electric pamphlet at and sign those petitions that you see best to accomplish social justice for the less fortunate in our country. Once you sign them, electronic letters will go out right away to congressional leaders and the Corporations that aid meanspirited conservatives. Do this for the less fortunate! Let our people grow and to meanspirited conservatives, let our people GO from your greed, high prices and wage slavery and private taxes and your religious oppression.

    So let it get written so let it get done.


    I created these petitions for social justice. These petitions appear different from regular petitions. These petitions allow people to boycott conservative contributors that give money to conservatives in both parties.

    I enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Now I appear disappointed that President Obama made deals with Big Pharma and the health insurance industry. This administration looks like Clinton II.

    Please sign these NEW petitions for single payer health care HR676 as primary legislation or for HR676 as the public option.

    Also sign these petitions.