(CNN)He's a lame duck president entering his final year in office. The race to replace him is in full swing, and when he gives his State of the Union address, the first caucuses and primaries of 2016 will be right around the corner.
Ideas for Obama's 'non-traditional' State of the Union address
But that doesn't mean Barack Obama is going to leave the limelight quietly.
The White House last month insisted Obama would give his final State of the Union address in a "non-traditional" way.
Non-traditional in what he'll say? How he'll deliver it? We can only wait and see. In what was described as a trailer for the speech, he said his team is "cooking up new ways to watch and interact." From a policy perspective, we know he has designs on policy statements about the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He has already issued new executive actions on guns.
In the meantime, we're left to wonder what "non-traditional" will mean. Last year, the White House advertised a non-traditional State of the Union address that ended up being leaked policy proposals and a speech published on a website beforehand.
So here are some good-natured suggestions on how to go much further:
The Constitution does mandate in Article 2, Section 3 that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union." But there's nothing in there about a formal speech and the annual display of partisan standing ovations, applause counts, distracted Supreme Court Justices, pleas to "my fellow Americans" and promises that the state of the union is strong.
All that has sprung up since Franklin D. Roosevelt started traveling up Pennsylvania Avenue in the 1930s. Before that, most presidents just sent up a written report.
Recently, the affair has started to feel a little rote, as we found last year when CNN producer Brenna Williams put 68 years of the speeches into one short video clip.
President Obama used a comedian to great effect at last year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. It was a joke, but you couldn't help thinking what the anger translator was saying was close to what really must be on the President's mind.
She's generally much more popular and way cooler than he is.
Richard Nixon kept most of his to around a half hour, according to data from The Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara. By the time Bill Clinton came around, the average had ballooned up to an hour -- and Clinton's all went much longer than that. Obama has only given one speech that lasted less than an hour.
These speeches have increasingly become kitchen sinks for grand promises for bold initiatives that never get off the ground. Remember when Obama challenged a Republican Congress to pass his expensive community college initiative? It was never going to happen. A non-traditional State of the Union address would be devoid of partisan wrangling. That's about as likely as the return of the anger translator. But you can imagine a president on his way out the door facing a hostile Congress -- if he wants to leave a mark on his last year -- will have to do things on his own.