Politico has a very smart article up regarding tonight's State of the Union address. The writers ask a simple question that Obama needs to start answering tonight: Just what, precisely, does President Obama intend to do in a second term if he earns one?
I would add an additional question: What political strategy would permit him to achieve whatever his goals are in a second term. If, as appears likely, the Obama re-election campaign has decided to focus on the base, he will not emerge with a mandate to do much even if he wins. If, however, the President were to run on three simple, broadly significant programs that affect the middle class, he could emerge with such a mandate. My candidates: immigration reform, tax reform, and infrastructure spending. Of course, whoever wins in November is likely to spend a lot of time worrying about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, about the Straits of Hormuz, about the leadership in North Korea, and Lord knows what else. But, on domestic policy, an incumbent running for re-election is well-advised to run on a simple and straight-forward platform.