Highs and Lows of Obama’s State of the Union Speech

Good speech. The president addressed some much-needed issues, but glossed over a few important ones, too.

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Making the case for health care reform. (Finally.)

If President Obama had defended the Affordable Care Act as clearly, deftly and ferociously as he did in this year’s State of the Union, it’s hard to see how anyone in the GOP would have had the chutzpah to continue trying to fight it the way they have, so hard, for so long. The president managed to channel some humor by saying, “Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law,” which drew laughs from members of both parties. He then delivered the devastating blow, saying, “But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you'd do differently.”

High

Equality for women.

According to ABC News’ Twitter feed, Facebook data indicated that the part of President Obama’s speech in which he focused on equal pay for women was one of the most popular social media moments of the night. The moment captured the president at his most confident—cheered on by boisterous applause, but no doubt by what the enthusiasm that greeted his comments might mean for the GOP. The last month has been an unmitigated disaster for Republicans, who’ve spent much of the time since losing the last presidential election trying to convince American women, many of whom voted for Obama, that there is no “war on women.” While Republican men like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have been in the news for all of the wrong reasons recently, in his speech, the president got to solidify his reputation as a man who not only respects women, but sees them as equals.

Low

Forgetting reproductive rights.

His spirited defense of women’s equality in the workplace is what made his virtual silence regarding lingering inequality when it comes to reproductive rights all the more jarring. Birth-control coverage is one of the signature components of the health care law he defended so vigorously in his speech and is in danger of being struck down by the Supreme Court.

High

Shouting out the son of a “barkeep.”

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