January 29, 2014
It took the President over an hour to deliver the most Republican speech of his Presidency. His message was simple.
I am a man of action. I am going to act to create opportunities, fight for the middle class and create jobs…It’s time to restore America to what used to be good.
That could have been written by a Republican, right? It’s no secret that for more than thirty years the GOP has been working to position themselves as the party of opportunity where hard work pays off and good jobs abound. The party that believes in restoring America to greatness. Well… if my twitter feed was any indication of how America reacted, the public was as divided as the house floor. Democrats seemed to love it. Republicans hated what could have been their own message. Why? Well, like all communication—it’s not what he said that mattered, it’s what people heard. And what people heard depended on their views of the President, America, and politicians in general. So, let me break down the messages he used: both what he said...and what folks heard.
1) I’m going to act. The President used a lot of language last night that made it clear that he was no lame duck. That he was going to get stuff done. That he was going to act on his own.
2) Opportunity for all. The President used the term “opportunity” more than a dozen times in last night’s speech—arguably the most Republican message on earth. And, despite the fact that just more than a year ago Republicans wanted The Grand Old Party to be “synonymous with the name ‘Growth and Opportunity Party’” they didn’t respond well to the term “opportunity” when it came from the President’s lips at all.
3) Fighting for the middle class. Who fights for the middle class? Ask Republicans and they will say that they do. Ask Democrats and they will say they do. Who is right? They both believe they are. There is a gap here. A big one. And in this gap is where the reaction to the message lives.
4) By creating jobs. In a lot of the work we do, we say that job creation is the new charity. What do we mean by that? We mean that creating jobs is viewed as one of the best things a company or politician can do. And clearly the President got that same feedback in his research. His set of policies read like, “The answer is jobs, what is the problem?” The truth is that no one could possibly be AGAINST job creation. And yet…some people were.
5) It’s time to restore America to what used to be good. And America used to be really, really good. So let’s get back to that. Can’t we all agree on that? The answer in a word, NO. Unless we are talking about Cory. Then yes. Because he represents everything that has EVER been good about America. At least we can agree on SOMETHING.
So, was it a success? It depends on what side of the aisle you were sitting in. I think people heard exactly what they wanted to hear. And that is exactly what we saw on the floor of the House last night.