Everyday we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day’s conversation in and outside Washington.
RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:
- The President is going to talk a lot about “investment” tonight. It is unclear how he will distinguish his plans from his stimulus, which has yet to spend all its money.
- Watch for the President, in his speech, to talk about the private sector. Note that his plans necessarily involve public-private cooperation using big companies at the expense of the little guy.
- Michele Bachmann will give the tea party response. It is important to remember that the tea party movement wants to be and will continue to be on the outside of the GOP.
Senior Political Columnist for TheDailyBeast.com John Avlon:
- The State of the Union – This is the biggest day in domestic politics that doesn’t have an election or an inauguration. It’s the Super Bowl for policy wonks. President Obama is entering the arena in a position of surprising strength given the shellacking of just three months ago. This speech is his chance to get the agenda for 2011 and continue his move to the center with substance. Under the umbrella theme of making America more competitive in the 21st century, keep en eye out for policy specifics. Along with targeted ‘investment’ will the president open the door to tax reform, using the corporate tax rate as a leading indicator? Will he show an openness to entitlement reform as a Nixon in China play to deal with long term deficits and debt without impacting short term economic growth? The stakes will be whether the president solidifies his 15 point gain among independents over the past month or whether that will fade on the basis of their distrust of how he’s dealt with the budget deficit to date.
- Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Response – Republican divisions have been elevated into outright message chaos with the self-appointed response by Michele Bachmann after the official response by Paul Ryan. Her recent Iowa trial balloon speech devoted to slavery metaphors sent a bad message for 2012 – a Palin light with Tea Party support and an investment in the talk radio approach to politics in which there is no such thing as too extreme. A list of Bachmann’s howlers are too numerous to list here, but repeatedly calling the Obama administration a ‘thug-ocracy’ and calling on her constituents to be ‘armed and dangerous’ in opposition to an energy tax are minor low-lights. Everyone is focused on how Bachmann is a distraction and an embarrassment for the GOP – but so far no one’s asking what I think is the more interesting question: when will the Tea Party realize that they have a Michele Bachmann problem. Their libertarian rhetoric and professed sole focus on fiscal responsibility has a much better steward in Paul Ryan but their elevation of Michele Bachmann threatens to confirm their worst negative stereotypes to country.
- Rahm Emanuel in a Fight for His Political Life: With the stunning court decision to take him off the ballot currently under appeal with the state Supreme Court, we will know the fate of Rahm’s ambition to be mayor by the end of the week. First, he needs four votes from the Supreme Court members to hear his appeal – and then the hearings will begin with expedited speed – absentee voting begins on the 31st. The biggest benefactors if Rahm is denied the right to run? Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun and Daley family ally Gary Chico, who had been passed over for Rahm. An added dose of intrigue – one of Chico’s strongest allies (and Emanuel’s strongest local opponents) is Alderman Ed Burke, and his wife Anne is one of the Supreme Court Justices who will be deciding Rahm’s political fate. This is Chicago.