Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Why Obama is playing a weak hand at State of the Union

By Newt Gingrich
updated 6:24 PM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
HIDE CAPTION
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
Quotes from State of the Union speeches
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich: President Obama facing tough headwinds as he gives State of the Union
  • He cites poll numbers showing Americans unhappy with direction and economy
  • Gingrich: Obama can excite the base with talk of income inequality
  • He says speech could boost Obama short term but will effect last?

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays, and author of a new book, "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate." A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama faces a real dilemma as he prepares for the State of the Union.

Most Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. A majority oppose Obamacare, for a variety of reasons.

Five years into his presidency, there is still a very weak economy, and 74% of Americans believe it feels like we are still in a recession.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

In addition, he has had a terrible year in which his major policy initiative failed spectacularly and his administration was caught misusing the IRS against political opponents, many Americans were startled to discover the scope of electronic government surveillance and details continued to trickle out about a number of other scandals.

And 53% recently indicated they believe the Obama administration is simply incompetent.

The President is now so unpopular in some parts of America that incumbent Democrats hide when he comes to their state.

The President recently tried moving to the left with rhetoric about income inequality to arouse his base.

Crunch time for President Obama
A peek behind the White House doors
Gingrich: Obama should learn from Christie

That strategy so alienated independents that the White House is now suggesting the State of the Union will focus on upward mobility and helping people achieve higher incomes through growth (core Republican themes) rather than on income inequality.

The Obama dilemma is simple.

He can move to the left and his base will be relatively happy (except on the NSA spying, where they may be the angriest opponents of the President's policies). But the base is too small to win the Senate races this fall.

He can move to the center, and the base may be bored and stay at home while the independents remain alienated by the economy and Obamacare.

Tuesday night, the President will be playing a weak hand.

He will get a standing ovation a number of times, of course, and the State of the Union is always a spectacle centered on the president. Most speeches like this have an impact for three days.

We will see if the President has found a formula that is more effective and lasting.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Newt Gingrich.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking no one cares -- or even should care, right now -- about climate change, writes CNN's John Sutter. But you'd be mistaken.
updated 5:32 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
David Gergen says the White House's war against ISIS is getting off to a rough start and needs to be set right
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says making rude use of the Mexican flag on Mexican independence day in a concert in Mexico was extremely tasteless, but not an international incident.
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Michael Dunn is going to stand trial again after a jury was unable to reach a verdict; Mark O'Mara hopes for a fair trial.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Laurence Steinberg says the high obesity rate among young children is worrisome for a host of reasons
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
updated 11:01 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT