top aides, you'll see him tackle entitlement reforms. I'm assuming that means with the same tremendous aplomb he tackled the deficit with in his first term.
Top campaign aides to President Obama said that in his speech on Thursday night, the president will discuss deficit reduction and entitlement reform.Stephanie Cutter, appearing on CNN’s Starting Point on Thursday, said, “I think you will hear the president lay out his plan of balanced deficit reduction where everybody pays their fair share and we cut what we don't need and that includes entitlement reform.”Earlier, she said: “I think you will hear him talk about the types of decisions we need to make as a country if we want to get our debt under control and do it in a way that will unleash growth and help the middle class grow.”
Ironically, the number one solution - getting rid of Obama - will not be part of the party platform.
Obama senior campaign advisor David Axelrod said Obama will offer some new elements to his consistent theme that the way to take the country forward is by rebuilding and growing the middle class.
Here's a legitimate question: New elements? Why didn't you trot them out before now when it became clear your original elements didn't hold water?
The idea is that the president is going to provide a path forward tonight. It will be interesting to see how he carries it off. He didn't have to do it in 2008; vague generalities and being a blank slate (is that racist to say?) were enough to win big. He doesn't have that same luxury this time around. What he does have in terms of laying out a plan, and something we can predict this speech by, is a few State of the Union addresses. Those ideas may be re-tweaked here because in the past, his SOTU speeches were derivative of each other and didn't really offer anything new. In other words, they tanked.
So what can he do tonight? He can offer more of the same, phrased differently. Or he can offer new ideas. Or he can ask for patience. It sounds like new ideas will be the approach he takes. But each of these approaches set the president up for simple and effective counter-arguments.
(1) Different verbiage for more of the same is just, to borrow a phrase from a presidential candidate, trying to put lipstick on a pig. It's easy enough to counter those ideas by saying this is nothing new, and it's already failed. Tried and failed - why try the same thing again. It's easy enough to point out that these ideas are re-treads. The liberal media might even chime in since they want more progressive change and more of the same won't appease them.
(2) Offering new ideas invites the counter-argument I made above - why didn't you try any of this sooner? If the president says it's because of a resistant Republican Congress, the counter argument is still simple. The reality of a Republican Congress isn't going to change, so why will these new ideas work where previous ones failed? He says he's going to be more bi-partisan going forward, but why didn't he try that after the 2010 shellacking his party took? So his new ideas, still mean more gridlock. Fool the country once shame on you, fool the country twice and...it goes bankrupt. The trick to countering this one, is to be sure to point out that he never really engaged Republicans so they weren't the obstructionists he claims.
(3) Be patient. This is the argument the RNC has been countering pretty successfully for a while now - Obama's plan hasn't worked, it's not working, so why should we expect any better for the next four years? America can do better. The argument that no one could have fixed everything in four years has a simple counter-argument as well: Just Watch Us.
No matter the approach, the president has been boxed in by the economy, and his mishandling of it, to a point where he doesn't have a strong hand to play at the convention. He doesn't even have much of a mediocre hand to play. He's going to have to rely on a stylistic flair in his delivery to repeat the dazzle he created in 2008. In the end, Democrats will be Democrats and revert to style over substance once again. This time conservatives have to push back harder than ever with both style and substance, and not let dazzle defeat common sense once again.