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Obama agenda: Previewing Tuesday night

On Sunday, the New York Times previewed Obama’s State of the Union, which he’ll deliver on Tuesday. “President Obama will outline an agenda for ‘winning the future’ in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, striking a theme of national unity and renewal as he stresses the need for government spending in key areas and an attack on the budget deficit. Mr. Obama previewed the themes in a video e-mailed Saturday evening to supporters who had helped in his election campaign. But the video made plain that his speech would be geared more broadly toward the political center, to independent voters and business owners and executives alienated by the expansion of government and the partisan legislative fights of the past two years.”

The Washington Post editorializes, "'WE CAN no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration or the next generation.' This was what President Obama had to say when he unveiled his budget - two years ago. We quoted his statement again last year, as the president released the fiscal 2011 budget, as a reminder of the central, unmet challenge facing the administration. We return to it because the problem of mounting debt is even more urgently true today. Time is running out for Mr. Obama to propose those hard choices and, more important, to fight for their adoption and implementation. We do not doubt the sincerity of his concern about the nation's precarious fiscal state. But we remain unpersuaded, and increasingly concerned, about the seriousness of his resolve to do something about it.”

Democratic pollster Geoff Garin offered Obama this advice in National Journal: “He should not give a typical State of the Union speech that is a laundry list of issues. In that regard, it’s OK with me if he leaves a lot out. This ought to be a speech that drives to a single conclusion rather than lots of different conclusions…”

What are progressives looking for in Obama’s address? Writes David Corn: “Progressives will be listening on Tuesday night to what Obama has to say about policy matters -- Social Security, job creation, Afghanistan. They will be quite sensitive to any hints that he's willing to follow the suggestions of deficit hawks on Social Security and budget cuts. (In this speech, Obama will continue his tightrope walk: hailing government efforts to keep the anemic recovery going, while calling for a path toward balancing the government's books.) But most of all, they will be looking for signs that Obama is willing to battle the conservative and Republican forces that politically outmaneuvered him this past year.”

E.J. Dionne has a similar suggestion. “Obama will no doubt call for bipartisan cooperation to achieve long-term fiscal balance, but he should also be prepared to fight. With this crowd, his slogan should be: hope, but verify.”

The Hill gives seven reasons Obama will be tough to beat in 2012: 1) Incumbents are tough to beat; 2) Obama’s move to the center; 3) The economy is showing signs of life; 4) Presidential elections are usually more about personality than policies; 5) Democrats still have fresh memories of Bush; 6). RNC debt; 7) People like divided government.

The AP: “Former secretary of state Colin Powell ruled out a return to government service yesterday but said he still supports President Obama even though he hasn’t yet decided whom to vote for in 2012.”

President Obama and other have op-eds in USA Today commemorating what would have been Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday; Reagan’s birthday is Feb. 6.

By the way, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Connelly looks at Reagan’s record and agrees with Reagan’s son, Ron, that the elder Reagan, so lionized by today’s right, couldn’t have won the Republican nomination today.