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Blog buzz: Cha-, Cha-, Change

From NBC's Ali Weinberg 
When it comes to the State of the Union, liberal and conservative bloggers and writers seem to agree: in terms of delivery, Obama has a clear goal: demonstrate his administration's commitment to getting people back to work. But there is a split on how to translate his speech into action once Obama leaves the Congressional chamber.

The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti on what he predicts the message of President's State of the Union Address contain, and his low expectations of it: "I expect Obama to focus heavily on the economy while denouncing the 'special interests' that stand between the American people and the 'change' they voted for in November 2008…When Obama said health care stood at the precipice, he wasn't kidding. What stopped the momentum wasn't backroom deals. It was public opposition."

Continetti adds that the Obama administration should anticipate more upsets in strong Democratic districts if it doesn't heed the "public opposition" to health care reform: "If the White House still can't figure that out, we can expect one, two, many more Massachusettses [misspelling intentional] in November."

Red State's Matthew Hurtt also suggests that Obama should use his prime time address to articulate Democrats' commitment to the issues most important to Americans, and that his failure to do so will spell Democratic losses in the midterms: "Tonight's State of the Union Address might allow President Obama to regroup and refocus his message on job creation and stimulating the economy. If he doesn't make headway soon, it could spell certain doom for Congressional Democrats."

Blogging at the liberal Washington Monthly, Steve Benen pushes back on the idea that Obama's relatively low approval ratings could drag down many Congressional Democrats running for re-election. Citing our most recent NBC/WSJ poll numbers, which show that most respondents blamed either Congressional Democrats or Republican (41% and 48%, respectively) for the problems in Washington, versus 27% who blame President Obama, Benen comments: "Dems' success is inextricably tied to Obama's standing…The more they argue amongst themselves, or delay (or deliberately kill) key parts of the party's agenda, the more they drag Obama's support down."

Writing at center-left magazine The New Republic's blog, Jonathan Cohn also suggests the results of the Massachusetts special election indicate the voter sentiment that President Obama must address in his speech. "Whatever the true meaning of the Massachusetts election -- and you can count me among those who think it's been wildly over-interpreted -- there's no question that the public has become frustrated with the Obama presidency," Cohn writes. But rather than back away from his ambitious agenda, he should restate the goals that originally applealed to voters enough for them to elect him President: "No, Obama can't ignore the voter anger or pretend Massachusetts didn't happen. He needs to promise action on the economy -- and a commitment to cleaning up government. But he doesn't have to abandon his agenda, either. The people elected him on a platform of 'change,' he can say. And change is what he still intends to give them."