January 27th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

How much do State of the Union speeches matter?


(FILE PHOTO) In his 1996 State of the Union speech, Bill Clinton promised that the era of big government was over - it wasn't. (PHOTO CREDIT: JOE MARQUETTE/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They are full of pomp and circumstance, lots of applause and plenty of media attention, but history proves that State of the Union speeches really don't matter all that much.

That's because generally speaking presidents come out and say the state of the union is strong - even if it's not - and a bunch of other stuff that isn't necessarily true.

For example, in 1934 FDR said: "Now that we are definitely in the process of recovery." Problem was, the economy was nowhere near recovering.

Then there was Richard Nixon - who in his 1974 State of the Union speech - promised the country no recession was coming. He also pledged to never resign and described the U.S. as the winner in the Vietnam war. Within months, Nixon quit, the country was in a recession and North Vietnam is still communist to this day.

In 1996 - Bill Clinton swore that "the era of big government is over" - turns out it wasn't. In Clinton's address to Congress the following year, he talked about how much stronger the country could be if it let the government get more involved in several areas.

Of course President Obama's speech tonight will get lots of media coverage, but polling suggests that a president's support is usually unaffected by the state of the union. A Gallup poll shows that among recent presidents, only Clinton seemed to get a bump in public opinion from his annual state of the union speeches.

Here’s my question to you: How much do State of the Union speeches really matter?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Randall writes:
This one will be pretty important. Whatever he promises tonight, his party will be held accountable for in November. Will it change the world? No. Will it create jobs? No. It is his "view" of the state of our union but as history shows, usually it is wrong.

Michael writes:
These speeches usually don't matter that much. This one does to me personally. I worked hard to get Obama elected and this is his last chance to show me he cares more about the people than he does the banks. If he doesn't convince me, I'm outta here.

Pat from Michigan writes:
They don't matter much when the president can't make a complete and cognitive sentence. I haven't wasted my time with them for 8 years. I will give this one 15 minutes, but if it turns into another campaign speech I'll turn on the Travel Channel and start plotting my escape from the U.S. Titanic.

Bill from Michigan writes:
The media is already stating that this speech could be a pivotal moment for the president, but if it weren't for all of the media hype and political fodder for the pundits, I doubt if it would really matter much at all. The whole thing has gotten way too predictable. Obama will make his points on the economy, jobs, terror, and health care. The Republican response will try to tear it all apart no matter what it is, and the pundits will all chatter for a week.

Joe writes:
State of the Union Addresses matter to the extent of gathering together in one place all of the promises which the president is likely to break over the next 12 months.

David from Las Vegas writes:
Jack, Wait three months and ask that question again. The speech writer doesn't get anything accomplished.

Ed from Maryland writes:
They are a nice break from reality, just don’t hold them in front of a mirror.

Filed under: President Barack Obama
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. JMc

    Between the Supreme Court handing our political system over to corporations, the complete financial mess our country is in, the almost revolutionary tone to a lot of comments being posted on the web regarding Bonuses for Bankers–I'd say this was one of the most important speeches of my lifetime.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  2. Joe CE

    THey set a tone and proviude a basis of discussion. They are valuable. Budgets, on the other hand, are not significant and should not require approval of the Congress – a terrible waste of time and energy.. The approval really comes when funds are appropriated.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  3. J.L from NJ

    Not much because the President just reads what someone else writes for him. Republicans get to sit on their hands and pout and democrats get to act cocky. I just tune in to see what cabinet official gets to hide in an undisclosed place and to see who is in the First Lady's box.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  4. John Russell

    State of the Union speeches do not matter a lick. According to the Washington Post, Obama delivered so far on 12 of the over 300 promises he made during his first year in office. It is obvious that the State of the Union is just rhetoric aimed at getting people reelected. I'm 60 years old and have no idea where this country is headed and that scares me. What is even more frightening is after tonight's speech, I still won't know where we're headed.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  5. pat in michigan

    They don't matter much when the President can't make a complete and cognitive sentence.I haven't wasted my time with them for 8 years .I will give this one 15 minutes but if it turns into another campagn speech i'll turn on the travel channel and start plotting my escape from the U.S. Titanic

    January 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  6. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Not much! It's just another feel good speech!

    January 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  7. Rob in NC

    Since the President is only a figurehead with no real power in our government, this speech doesn't matter. They will clap and applaud for him, but in the end they will ignore him and continue to do nothing. Rob in Clayton,NC

    January 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  8. Tony from Southport

    It gives the sitting President a popularity bump for about 2-3 days. And of course, it gives them a chance at the limelight, something they don't very often get...... er....well at least most of them don't very often get. This President is on TV more than the weather guy. This speech will be a bunch of sentences aimed at blaming others for his botched agenda, and campiagning as he does every day.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  9. Darren

    President Obama has to quit appeasing Wall Street and all the lobbyists he used to be on the take with and act like the preisdent we all voted for.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  10. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, they don't. It is just another mid-term campaign speech, full of "look what we did" and "I promise to do--"! If it were a REAL state of the union, they would have to start out by saying, "OK, we spent $4T more than we've made since last Jan and we have nothing to show for it". Unemployment didn't stop at 8% like we hoped, it's 10% and could get worse before it gets better! Sorry, we didn't get the other $2.5T deficit dollars in Health Care spent, but don't give up, we're still working on it. Oh, by the way, I'm going to freeze decreationary spending to save $250B, however, Congress is going add another $250B in deficit spending for Medicare Dr's fees next month, so that's a wash. How's change working for you???

    January 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  11. Linda in Arizona

    Not much except to the "pundits". I'm wondering if the republicans have something up their dirty, money and bloodstained sleeves though. Joe Wilson's rude interruption worked so well for him and for their disgusting party, I wouldn't be surprised if they did it again. It would overshadow whatever points the president wanted to make, and instantly turn all conversation back to them. The only things keeping them from repeating that performance would be good manners or shame. Republicans have neither.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  12. Mike from Denver

    Jack, actions speak louder than words; and from where I am, I only hear whispers.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  13. Bill from Michigan

    The media is already stating that this speach could be a pivotal moment for the President, but If it weren't for all of the media hype and political fodder for the pundits, I doubt if it would really matter much at all. The whole thing has gotten way to predictable. Obama will make his points on the economy, jobs, terror, and healthcare. The Republican response will try to tear it all apart no matter what it is, and the pundits will all chatter for a week.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  14. Joe M


    It means nothing! It's like a pre-game pep talk and Obama's the coach. He's going to come out and tell us it's all about jobs and the economy. Unfortunately, when the game begins it will be Pelosi and Reid calling the plays from the coaches booth and they will reverse it giving their health care bill the ball. In the end the american taxpayer will get sacked for a loss. Game over.

    Joe M (Mn)

    January 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  15. W.T.Murphy- Pasadena,Md

    Jack; State of the Union speeches are a waste of time. It's nothing but the two partys glad handing and patting each other on the back for the work they haven't accomplished. It's similar to the academy awards, they need to applaud and cheer for their party. Cancel the speech,go back to work to save the country and earn your paycheck like everyone else.We don't need another fluff speech to B.S. the American people

    January 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  16. Eugene Northern Cal

    They've never mattered much unless you're a member of the presidents political party. Then you'll get a lot of exercise standing and applauding every 30 seconds or so. Jack, I think this is all the exercise some of these Pork ridden politicians get. Obama's speech tonight will amount to the S.O.S. we've already heard all year long..

    January 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  17. Jim


    Well, pundits are saying this one could be make or break for Obama. I don't know, that sounds pretty important to me.

    Reno, Nevada

    January 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  18. David Gerstenfeld

    Jack, wait 3 months & ask that question again. The speech writer doesn't get anything accomplished.
    David, Las Vegas

    January 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  19. Lori - PA


    It's not the speech so much as what the President does to resolve the problems he points out during the State of the Union address. The problem is, after all the talking, nothing happens. If somehting does happen, the action is not well thought out.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Billy from Minneapolis


    Yes, State of the Union speeches matter. I didn't like G.W Bush as our President but I still wanted to know his view of our country and the direction he wanted to take us. While I continue to support Obama, he has some explaining to do.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  21. sisi

    How important is having meetings to discuss anything? Pretty important. How important is it to have a leader lead? Very important. How else will OUR leader communicate to his people about the STATE of our union? TV would be MY way of doing it. How would you do it? Send an email?

    sisi – Florida

    January 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  22. Ed from MD

    They are a nice break from reality, just dont hold them infront of a mirror.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  23. adem, oakland California.

    Nothing, but disrespect..and anxiety.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  24. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    Not with the President it doesn't. It is the same old same old. In fact, I am going to watch a movie tonight. President Obama has not done anything that he promised in his campaign, so why listen to more lies?

    January 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  25. David in San Diego

    To whom? It depends. Speeches per se don't solve problems but they can identify them, reframe them to make them more amenable to solution, and mobilize support. Of course, the Republican'ts are already on record as objecting to everything he will say–even without knowing what it is–and Faux News will ridicule and bash it. Whatever the President actually proposes will get lost in the noise about "big government," "death panels," "socialism," and electoral failure. As Bush the Elder might have said, "we are in deep doo-doo," and no one but the Dems is really working to get us out of it. Unfortunately, much of the public has been tricked into thinking it is bad for them personally.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  26. Lou from North Carolina

    It tells what he could be thinking....or what he doesn't want us to think about because he doesn't mention the important things.....it just a dog and pony show for the President and he walks in and everybody cheers and then they close the door and stab him in the back. If the State of the Union were presented to an empty chamber, then it might be the state of the union but broadcast to us via TV, it would be a fireside chat.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  27. Maria

    STU speeches don't mean a whole lot. This will be a great show of Obama's oratory skills and not much more. I still believe he can turn things around but his address to Congress is worthless, he needs to address the people. He should try Reagan's approach (not a Reagan fan) by doing speeches directed to the people and skip Congress altogether. I suppose there is some rule that dictates there must be a STU address every year, but stop appearing in front of Congress and just appear on TV, close-up and personal. Tell us exactly what is going on, what has worked/failed/or under scrutiny. What he's learned this year about bi-partianship and if he'll keep trying(he has to, without a super majority in the Senate.) He must address Medicare cuts, as it takes up more of our taxes than even the war spending. I'm on Medicare,disabled...cut my aid, I'll tough it out. Most people know how to live w/less and we will...either now or when we're bankrupt...our choice..and Obama's.


    January 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  28. Delia

    They help the country to focus on what the real issues are. To that end, I hope President Obama makes a better link between the economy and the health care debate. Then I'd like him to flat out tell us Democracy is dead. We now live in a Plutocracy and the President's hands are tied by special interests and money. The end!

    January 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  29. Mari Fernandez, Utah

    They matter a great deal, since we get to hear from our president. Obama needs to communicate with us because otherwise the GOP's hate-machine will drown him out.

    We are still supportive & hopeful, Jack. To President Obama, I say,


    January 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  30. Ann from Charleston, SC

    All week long I've heard writers and analysts talking about what they think the President will talk about and what they think he should talk about. You would think from all the hype by the news media that the importance of the State of the Union Speech was monumental, that our very existence depended on the words he will speak. People will hear what they want to hear. They will look for points to support the opinions they already hold – heaven help us if we let facts interfere with our opinions. Maybe a few will see something from a little different viewpoint. Maybe a few will change their mind about an item of the president's agenda, but next week everyone will be back arguing about how the president should do things and how Congress should do things and yada yada yada.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  31. Sylvain

    Doesn't really matter Jack, Obama should do like Thomas Jefferson did; Send an email (a letter back then) to Congress detailing the State of the Union and what he plans to do about it. That's it. It would be a change and it would save us from 48 hours of so-called experts trying to spin this left and right. And I can just imagine how american's best trusted news network will torture this one! Ouch!

    January 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  32. honestjohn in Vermont

    They mean zero.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  33. Kevin, Chester Springs PA

    Sure they matter. It should set the presidential agenda and political tone for the upcoming year and reflect on what has happened — or what has not happened — the previous year. Yeah, in our democracy the State of Union message is an opportunity for the public presentation of presidential accountability and responsibility. And we as citizens should expect and demand a truthful State of the Union. After all, the government works for us, the people, not the other way around. And we need to remind all of our elected representatives of this fundamental principle every chance we get, especialy on election day.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  34. john ...... marlton, nj

    I am already yawning ..... The only hope of a spirited speech is if we get some people to boo...

    January 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  35. Aunt Em, KS

    Pardon me. . . . . .. Say what's that Jack????? I can't hear you too
    well, I'm hiding in the cellar until the storm blows over.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  36. Rob of Brooklyn

    its all mindless chatter of what won't happen

    January 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  37. Dennis North Carolina

    they are important because they show were our country stands as far as success or failure. the president needs to tell us where we are failing and what is needed to be done to correct the future. Jack, my answer to your second question is why it might not make a difference.

    January 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  38. Wayne from New Brunswick Canada

    It's a lot of hot air; the cupboard is bare!

    January 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  39. Phillip Tate

    If done correctly and with original intentions demonstrated, then they matter a great deal. Not all American people have an understanding of what is happening in the different regions of the United States. Nor, do most Americans know and understand the dealings of the government body. Simply put, SOTU adresses are needed and relevant.

    Phillip Tate
    Huntsville, AL

    January 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  40. Jim Fonyer, SC

    Its not so much the speech I'm waiting for, but the rebuttal, Jack.
    They're going to let our finest "foot in mouth disease" congressman
    Joe (he lies) Wilson give the response.

    We sure do know how to pick em, don't we ?


    January 27, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  41. Joe in Kent Island, MD

    What matters is action; and I don't mean the kind where the jaw flaps up and down and the same old noise we've heard before comes out.

    The only speech the president could give right now to Congress and the American people that would have any real effect would be for him to point at each group of congress and call "them" out on where they have failed and stalled. Congress has failed our country – Obama it's time to take the gloves off!!

    January 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  42. Don in Grand Rapids , MI

    Jack, all the state of the union speech is just another chance for The Prez to tell us lies and make more promises that he never intends to make good on. This President is the biggest buffoon since Herbert Hoover and Jimmy 'The Peanut" Carter!

    January 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  43. Randy T

    As much as campaign promises matter.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  44. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    It's a big Pep Rally for these political hacks to pat themselves on the back. Comparable to campaign promises.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  45. Jeff in Minnesota

    Yea, rah!

    You really think we're going to hear about how dire the straits are that we are in and the serious sacrifices we are all going to have to make in order to dig ourselves out? Have you forgotten? Obama wants to be re-elected, so I'm sure we're getting a cheerleader speech with little substance.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  46. Parker Powell

    Obama has no credibility. He has lied about transparency. He has
    lied about earmarks/pork and back room deals as he has done all
    of them. He has surrounded himself over 30 czars, many of which
    are socialists or communist radicals. He has met with the Pres
    of SEIU over 22 times over the past year in the White House, for
    what end? He has driven this country into a terrible debt, weakened
    our country by not facing that we have a war going on by giving terrorists
    rights and paying for their defense. Worst of all moving the trial of KSM
    to NYC.
    Obama has not missed a step in jeopardizing and weakening this
    country at every turn.
    Michelle and Barack hate America and are out to transform it into
    a socialist state.
    If you asked him who the founding fathers were. Would he answer: Washington, Paine, Jefferson,
    Or would he answer: Karl Marx or Mao

    Parker Powell US Navy Vietnam Vet
    Major Nancy Powell

    January 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  47. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    I would argue that most don't. This year I will be watching because I hae no idea where the President thinks we should be going as a nation anymore. I'd like to hear specifics on how he plans to create jobs by taxing people who create them. I'd like him to outline his principles that he stands for above all.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  48. Fortuna

    For the most part, I don't usually focus too much on them. After all, it's just another speech of what the President would LIKE to do, not actually doing. However, I am very interested to hear what President Obama has to say about the current situation of our nation. We voted for him (me included) because we believed in him and had hope that he could change the nation into something greater than any of us could imagine.

    I still hold onto that hope. And even if he has made some decisions that were not very successful, I still believe in his power as our nation's leader and so should everyone else.

    -New York City, NY

    January 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  49. Laura

    Just about as much as campaign promises, apparently.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  50. Ken

    they dont...action speaks louder than words....ALWAYS. period.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  51. William Courtland

    It depends upon the Address, if a President just recited the itsy bitsy spider it wouldn't mean much...

    January 27, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  52. Gary H. Boyd

    It's like putting lipstick on a pig. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Gary H. Boyd, Scottsdale, Arizona

    January 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  53. hank, montreal

    Just like the President himself: irrelevent
    He has delegated the economy, healthcare and defense to crooks all over the spectrum. Whether they be in Congress, the lobbyists or Wall Street, they are robbing the Americans blind.
    He's a smooth talker in an empty suit.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  54. Festus, Montana

    We'll see Jack...I plan on taking a sip of gin and tonic each time the
    President mentions the word jobs. Hopefully I'll be drunk by nine thirty.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  55. ken connecticut

    Oh, the press will. They need something to talk about!!

    January 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  56. Kyle, Irvine, CA

    The State of the Union is just a formality. We don't need to have a "State of the Union" address to tell us the country is in turmoil. Just ask any person who is unemployed. It's all for show.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  57. Karen (Virginia Beach, Virginia)

    State of the Union addresses are just a way for the President to make yet another speech about NOTHING! No matter how the country is doing the President will do nothing more than give yet another FLUFF speech.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  58. DefendRights

    State of the Union speeches is an opportunity for the president to look back over the past year, reaffirm the progress made on campaign promises and efforts to address emergency situations that have arisen. It is NOT an opportunity for the president to, yet again, condescendingly tell Americans that we are too stupid to understand the "intricate workings" of the government. You will PAY, Americans...just don't ask about what I am doing.

    Obama blew it. Americans have heard the rhetoric, seen the partisanship, suffered the constant speeches, listened to the lies, and have had our arms twisted behind our backs on healthcare. How much more do we need to see or hear to know about this person's character, ability to lead, and veracity? NONE.

    He's out and it doesn't matter what he says at this point.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  59. Paula Dailey

    Pretty darn important I would say, but I do wish he Obama would stop pussy footing around with the GOP.

    Old Abe said it best: A HOUSE DIVIDED CANNOT STAND.

    This is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and we have nothing but a group of loose canons spouting a ton of rhetoric,while the price of laundry detergent is climbing daily. Wish some of you bigwigs would get down inthe dirt with the rest of us, no daisys to smell here.

    We are a year or two of imploding on ourselves. Thank God the dome is made of cast iron.....but even this gets rusty with time.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  60. Gigi Oregon

    It gives the media a lot of fodder to chew on...

    January 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
  61. dee dee

    It does not matter. Just waste of time. He is doing nothing to help me. What I heard he is doing will not help me. Nothing he is going to say tonight is going to help pay my bills.
    Maybe a law passing more cereal in the box, tuna in the can, cheaper fruit and vegetables. That would help me more than the stimulus so far and anything else he proposed so far.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  62. Ralph Spyer chicago Il

    Bla, bla, bla, in the next election how much money is China going spend that what really maters

    January 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  63. Michael from Ft. Hood, Texas

    All it does is allow for empty promises to be made, and a country to be suckered into believing that we are on the verge of making changes to past misbehavior and inaction. What the State of the Union should be is an announcment that the present system in place and those currently in government have been removed by an order of the American people and a competent government based on honesty and integrity placed into power and given back to the people.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  64. Alan

    only to get his vision out to the pblic. Problem is, Wolf Blitzer just asked Eric Cantor 3 times if the Republicans are now willing to work with the President and 3 times Eric Cantor wouldn't answer the question.so no the Republicans are going to try to break the President over the needs of the people. People aren't upset at the Democrats. They are upset at all the incumbents that don't want to work together constructively. Eric Cantor is part of the problem.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  65. Paul Tolson

    Jack, of all the idiotic things these people in washington are doing or not doing, is it true that congress voted themselves a pay raise when those of us who are retired have our pay frozen?

    January 27, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  66. Casey

    The State of the Union matters in that it informs the listening audience exactly what the President will not do -which often is simply the polar opposite of what was promised.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  67. marybell

    It must matter a great deal to the media. They hype it for days in advance, obtain every possible leak from 'insiders', and then nitpick it to death afterward, by examining every letter of every word and every comma and exclamation mark.

    I think it matters a great deal to the President's opposition also. It gives them another excuse to criticize while offering no solutions of their own.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  68. John from Fort Worth

    Not very much. The President tries to balance his real agenda and trying not to upset too many constituents in the process. I will DVR it and watch mostly on fast forward to avoid the self-serving applause from a group of people that have no intention on implementing the proposals being shared.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  69. Jerry in Alaska

    They matter alot. They are used to get us to look over here, not seeing what they are doing over there. The thing Obama should be asking tonight is this. Did you or didn't you vote for CHANGE? Why the BEEF over the CHANGE then, ESPECIALLY FROM DEMS? President Obama is moving America towards the OWO just like ALL OF HIS COUSINS (Past Presidents & Vice Presidents) have done. THEY HAVE A DREAM AND THOUGHT YOU HAD THE SAME DREAM FOR A OWO, (owo means one world order).

    January 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  70. Will

    At this day and age they matter more to the news media than the people at hand. A state if the union address was intended to be an honest presentation of the country and a plan for improvement. But in recent decades it's been more about media coverage and popularity than rallying the country together to accomplish something great.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  71. D Brown

    To me, it is a very important speech. I hope he comes out fighting. I think he has allowed the reblicans run amock. His approach is too much like MLK on civil rights, without the fight behind it. Mr president, stand up, put your agenda out there and rally the people who voted you in. You still have our support and confidence. Now you have to realize we stand behind you. If they want a fight Mr President, lets give them one! No more soft speaking. Take courage, you're message is there, We hear it. Thanks,,

    January 27, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
  72. Will from San Jose, CA

    Nothing matters as long as Congress continues in it's current dysfunctional path. Democrats are too spineless to pass their own agenda and Republicans would rather watch the country fall apart than fix it while a Democratic President was in office.

    It's a sad joke, and what's worse is will vote them all back in again.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  73. Nathan Hobson

    Lindsay Graham's comments about Congress's inaction on deficits is just a bit hypocritical. One of the arguments Republicans made against the health reform bill was that it called for cuts in Medicare, something EVERYONE who looks at the deficit problem realizes is essential. But Graham joined his Republican colleagues in voting to the last person against the bill. Courage needs to start with him.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  74. Jim

    In this particular State of the Union, I don't think it makes much difference. It may give the President another chance to explain his agenda and changes to it. But, he has already given over 400 speeches this year and I, for one, am not looking forward to this one.

    I am now of the opinion, based upon the speeches, that this will be more of the same. All talk, no walk.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  75. Jo

    Well if you gauge what Bush said when he was in, it didn't mean anything that was positive for our Country. He was the most out of touch President we have ever had. Just before Bush got the Tarp money, he said the economy was good and sound. I would refuse to give one if I were President.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  76. Frank

    The SOTU address is meaningless if the priority of the members of the House and Senate, in BOTH parties, is to get/keep power individually and for their respective parties.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  77. Vincent Liotta

    The State of the Union is a precious gift under our founding fathers which has transgressed itself into a political message with hoots and hollers from the majority and hissing and boos from the minority. The knock on affect is the speech is meaningless ,d I shant watch it tonight.

    I am an Italian American born in Brooklyn And a former democrat. I am a Republican now but consider myself left of center.

    Our President shall speak tonight with political reflexes from gay rights in the military to potential bio chemical warfare because he was criticized yesterday on that subject.

    I want Jobs. I want Credit. I wantno terrorism trials in NYC, I want border security. I want the healthcare debates on C Span as he promised. I want seniors to be taken care of. I don't want illegal aliens, I don't want our government owning the auto, insurance or banking industries.

    This disgr*ce to the oval office never run a candy store and now he wants to run all of these businesses.

    He is the next Jiimy Carter, one term and out as well as bitter.

    Good riddens to the Marxist Facist who hides behind JFK and FDR's democratic priniples.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  78. Jim - New York, NY

    While I've never seen anything of substance come from these they definitely do matter. The mindless rabble that follows either party gets to have a false sense of confidence for a day or two, then reality sets in like a New Year's day hangover. Propaganda is propaganda, and some people in this country, namely the ones that have undying blind loyalty to either party, have a need to be told what to think.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  79. Mike, Albuquerque, NM

    To the Bar owners it means more sales. And, to taxi cab drivers I hope that it means more passengers getting a ride home. Why? Because State of the Union speeches are responsible for drinking games all across the nation. For every applause, take a drink. For every time the president says "Jobs" take a drink. Every time the the camera shows Joe Wilson you must shout "You Lie" and take a drink. Everytime the President says terror or terrorism you must shout "Call 911" and take a drink. Then shout "Really! call 911! somebody is on the floor over here"...and take a drink.

    In the end, the State of the Union speech acts as a stimulus for Bars, the Liquor Industry, and taxi drivers. That matters a lot in my home town.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  80. klidl

    Generally not much because there's not much going on. But in this case we're looking for someone, somewhere to step up to the plate with a plan that we understand and can get behind. Not that O hasn't done that before, but his initial plan did not include any consideration for how 'talking heads' and the emperors of the Senate could obliderate sound thinking and make it sound good. Jack, you and your pears have got to help to call these guys out. You can't keep offering a panopoly of prognostications about each and every sound bite that comes out of Washington. Let's cut off the critics and stand behind those with real plans. And that, by the way, excludes all of those Republican 'trickle-on' plans that we've been sitting under for the past 8-12 years.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  81. Don from Belleville, Canada

    Normally they are not very important, but this one is critical.
    President Obama is on the brink of losing credibility with even his own most loyal supporters. The Republicans have almost convinced America that Obama is a useless one-term wonder.
    The President must somehow reassure the public that he is not all talk and no action, and he must obliterate the nagging feeling that Americans have that he might actually be on the side of the rich and powerful despite all his pre-election "man of the people" rhetoric.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  82. tom cavellier

    It doesn't matter very much other than it's something that is required and he has to do it. He will try to make it seem like he's trying to energize the two parties working together but that will never happen. The only thing that will save this country is term limits. If serving in congress is just a job then all congress will do is try to protect their jobs not serve this country. Why is that so hard for people to figure out?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  83. steve- virginia beach

    State of the Union speeches aren't going to matter until we stop electing liars and corrupt politicians. But I'll be listening anway for his explanation of why SEIU union boss Andy Stern is the most frequent White House visitor.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  84. Earl Loring

    Best way to describe Obama's first year in office....Just Words! Just Words!


    January 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  85. Ken in NC

    They don’t mean much Jack. I tried to deposit the last State of The Union Speech to my bank account and they laughed me right out of the bank.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  86. The Broker.

    "Only the living can still process, analise, that past. And still get it wrong, 50% of the time,"

    January 27, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  87. John, Fort Collins, CO

    The State of the Union address is the annual formal announcement that the sperm of the controlling party has finally hooked up with the egg of the people. Which, of course, generally seems to end up with more of the same old government. Its a damn shame biology and government don't follow the same rules.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  88. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    What's the old adage? Better than a sharp stick in the eye.

    On second thought when it comes to the SOTU speech, what kind of stick do you have Jack?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  89. Randall Pennington

    This one will be pretty important. Whatever he promises tonight his party will be held accountable for in November. Will it change the world? No. Will it create jobs? No. It is his "view" of the state of our union but as history shows, usually it is wrong.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  90. Genevieve cousineau

    Dear Jack,
    If all of the companies and big businesses would be considered traitors to America for outsourcing all of our jobs overseas, and also pay a big tax on their profits, then we Americans of the middle class would not have to carry the burden of their successes. Let's keep our jobs home and build our country on good American know how. So let's call them traitors, which they are and treat them so and make them pay for it. Keep jobs home and you will see out country become what it used to be.
    Bring the middle class back to life.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  91. Rebecca Frommlet

    It doesn't matter if people think the State of the Union is important or not. It's constitutionally required. That's that.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  92. Chris - British Columbia

    I believe the State of the Union address helps to define next steps for the President and the country. It's an important speech that provides the opportunity to also express the President's vision for the coming year.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  93. Annie, Atlanta

    Not much. Without clear, decisive, take-charge leadership to back up all those words, it’s just an hour and a half of hot air. It will be interesting to see over the next year which one this will be.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  94. Deena Nissley

    Jack, it means a lot! It be nice if he had to keep us up to date every month! I just pray he'll be honest, candid, and thorough–tell us how good everything is, but tell us how bad it is too–and specifically why he thinks its bad. We hear the media tell us what they think, but I'd much rather hear it from the horse's-or should I say donkey's– mouth!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  95. Susan lilly

    They should only be said to matter if actions prove to back up what is said!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  96. D. Phillips

    It matters just about as much as campaign speeches!!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  97. Michael Nolan

    These speeches usually don't matter that much. This one does to me personally. I worked hard to get Obama elected and this is his last chance to show me he cares more about the people than he does the banks. If he doesn't convince me, I'm outta here.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  98. David

    Jack – you just spent five minutes telling us that State of the Union speeches don't matter. Aren't you listening to yourself?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  99. Joan from Livermore CA

    If I were to base my answer on the fodder that you guys have been spewing out over the past couple of days, I'd say it matters whole heck of a lot. But in reality, it'll be just another speech, more talking the talk. I'll believe any of it when I see the guy walk the talk.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  100. Mark from Columbia Maryland

    Though it is outlined as a task for the president by the constitution, I don't think any amount of taking could make congress do something that would actually benefit themselves the common citizen.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  101. Joe Miller

    State of the Union Addresses matter to the extent of gathering together in one place all of the promises which the President is likely to break over the next 12 months.

    In my own mind I'm thinking of it this year as "The State of the Mess Address."

    January 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  102. Linda O

    State of the Union speeches are nothing but posturing and pomp. I doubt there is a smidgen of truth about what is really happening in the White House.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  103. Peter O

    Normally I think the state of the union doesnt matter much like you suggested. However; since President Obama doesnt allow journalist to question him it will be interesting to see what he says on his own. In his Jan 22nd tax payers speech he mention "I" myself 132 times and mentioned taxpayers less then a dozen times. Im sure when the speech is done he will surpass this "I" record.

    ps reporters dont help this at all by always framing every question as how will this effect Obama , how will Obama handle this , what would Obama do .... News flash this country is about US not just him

    January 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  104. Waking J, Georgia


    It doesn't at all: We heard it all already.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  105. Kate

    State of the Unions are magnanimous traditions, and they had their place in the past. Now, especially with this President who has mastered the art and science of social media, we are inundated with his messages and positions constantly. I'm not complaining - I like to hear from my President. But to answer your question, no, formal State of the Unions don't have the impact they once had.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  106. Mark from Columbia Maryland

    Though it is outlined as a task for the president by the constitution, I don't think any amount of taking could make congress do something that would actually benefit the common citizen.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  107. Tony Zupan

    State of the union speechs do not matter to us only because it is just more promises that will later be broken. No one can possibly guarantee all the promises one makes but they continue to feed this garbage to us with hopes we will buy it. I get the message from this group and unfortunatly we want them all out no matter what party. Its time to clean house.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  108. Ron

    The President's State of the Union address is an insight to the political establishment as viewed by the President. Of course the Commander in Chief is going to add his fluff to the speech, however this is his opportunity to focus on the future in lieu of his Presidency...yes it's important.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  109. Steve

    Absolutely nothing –zero, zilch. It's a dog and pony media event.

    Apollo Beach, FL

    January 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  110. Joe Sephus, Jersey

    How much do State of the union(economy) speeches Matter?

    Put it this way Jack. A little gravy over Christmas candy canes don't taste
    bad at all.

    Coastal Joe.
    N.J. proper

    January 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  111. Joe

    Jack, I think that State of the Union speeches are important to the nation because they give the people of the country the chance to see what the president has in store for the rest of his term. I think they also allow the president to tell the people what he has done so far and address issues that the public has. Joe from New York

    January 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  112. Ben

    Charlottesville, VA

    In a nation full of political convolusion, SOTU speeches matter in that they provide the opportunity for the president to reassure the public of his administraion's ultimate goals and intentions...

    January 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  113. Lefty Conservative

    Generally SOTUs (At Least IMO) aren't really indicative as to how the rest of the year will actually turn out. In fact, all it really does is merely outline the Chief Executive's goals in a given year. Beyond that, it's by & large up to BOTH Houses Of Congress (The House AND The Senate) to see to it that those goals are met.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  114. Rex

    thats all they do is talk...the real question is when they all gonna stop talking and trying to do something pulosi is still on the HCB theres a joke.obama who i voted for i will not vote for again.all he is done is talk.the republicans are a joke they won't do anything to help anyone because they don't want a demacrat to get elected again.it doesn't matter if the country is in a tailspin to them they are more interested in there jobs and raising money for a re-election..so my conclusion is to fire them all and give a bunch of new liers a chance to rip us off an not care a lick about us...

    January 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  115. Jeanne, Boca Raton, Fl

    Wouldn't it be a head turner if Obama would just talk to the American people like adults instead of children? Mayber just maybe we would listen to him for a change and that would be a change

    January 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  116. Ted

    Well, even though diluted due to politics, the issues the president addresses give's a sense of what he/she is doing in office to fix those problems, not exactly to the senate but to the people. I do like to hear it from him instead from a reporter. No offense.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  117. Matthew Chesterton

    Every year the State of the Union is the time that the president can address hot button issues, give his ideas on what he would like done the upcoming year, and to let us know how our country is doing. This year the hot button issues are: jobs and the the healthcare bill. Every year I look forward to the SOTU so I can be an informed citizen and know where my taxes are going.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  118. Eric H, Anaheim Ca

    Instead of the seated President telling me in a speech how he wants me to feel about the current "State of the Union" they shouls do a comprehensive poll of the public and let "the Union" tell the Government how it is doing themselves!!!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  119. David

    This is the season where the air is full of speeches and visca versa.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  120. Rusty Taylor

    Jack, The State of the Union , is merely a platform for the president to tell us what is going on,However, Due to National security reasons the truth cannot be told, the "truth" would scare Americans and start a revolution,,,,so the State of the Union will be as always,,,,a pack of lies followed by good night and GOD bless America,,,,,If he were to bless us Jack, he would remove from office ALL the liars that say they represent the people ,,,as they count their lobby dollars.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  121. Nate

    State of the Union speeches are like bringing your new car back to the dealership for an annoying squeak… Upon getting your car back, your faith tells you the squeak is fixed and you breathe a sigh of relief. A few days later; you realize nothing has changed as the squeak reappears... you lose faith all over again. It’s the same with Washington and speeches.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  122. George

    This address is very important for Obama. His bailout and socialization of the banking system banking bought the support of the super-rich, and his recent populist rhetoric is buying the support of the uneducated. He will ensure us that money printing will bring us prosperity as our Fed inches closer to destroying the middle class. It's important for him to tell us that all is well.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  123. Bill Barry


    Each year the CEO of every major public corporation must provide an annual report to the shareholders of the company.

    Our nation's CEO needs to do the same - even if the message does not change the opinion of the shareholders better known as the voters of the State of our Union.

    Key West, FL

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  124. Alex

    Union speeches like most speeches by politicians do not materialize. They promise one thing but do another. I doubt it will ever change.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  125. Michael Carson

    Information regardless of it's form, when it is received is most effective when it is applied. State of the Union address or any other address has to stimulate actions. It's is not the Presidents responsibility alone to make a positive difference in this great United States of America – Everyone must be committed to seeking out strategic actions that will provide a better today that will birth a better tomorrow.

    Michael Carson

    Orlando, Fl

    January 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  126. Susan

    I think they matter quite a bit. When the economy is bad, and we're suffering, when we're at war, and we're helping countries in dire need of help like Haiti, we look to the President to tell he understands how we feel, and what he's going to do about all these issues.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  127. swayze

    The gigs up!
    The mass of humanity can see into the scam!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  128. Ted

    Yes, even though diluted due to politics, the issues the president addresses give's a sense of what he/she is doing in office to fix those problems, not exactly to the senate but to the people. I do like to hear it from him instead from a reporter. No offense.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  129. Andy

    How much does the State of the Union Speech matter? How important is talking to a politician? Honestly, the paper the speech was drafted on is of more value. Does anyone remember the contents of last year's speech? I don't. Republicans and Democrats alike live for the opportunity to tell us how they have their finger on the pulse of the nation. If those we sent to Washington don't stop talking and start getting things done, there will be no pulse left, and they can simply pull the sheet over our collective face.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  130. Diane in St. Louis

    Well...they stopped meaning anything to me many years ago because they're all "re-runs" with no substance.
    Will I watch the State of the Union Address tonight? Hmmm...that's a tough question, but I think I'll watch a movie re-run instead...at least the movie re-runs haven't played as many times as the State of the Union Addresses have, and there's more chance of a happy ending by watching a movie!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  131. Mike


    No matter what President Obama says the right wingers and Mr. Boehner and his scowl will be on afterwards doing what they do best: Nothing!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  132. sylvia-grant

    The public needs reassurance when conditions are difficult and demanding. A State of the Union message needs to do this plus
    outline what a President is trying to accomplish. i can't think of anyone the Republicans have who would handle so many problems with better brains!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  133. B Ann Tierno

    The State of The Union speech, is nice but falls on deaf ears. The Republicans have been acting like two year olds and the only word the know is "NO. The Democrates aren't much better. They have the "Blue Dog Democrates" barking they only want it their way. (Blue Dog Democrates? Sounds like a Saturday Cartoon for three year olds) So in addition to trying to run a country, he is also saddled with trying to reason with toddlers, and we all know you can't reason with two and three year olds. God help us all.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  134. Jose Monge

    As a new naturalize citizen, the state of the union will meant a great deal to me, I want to hear a confidence president, as well I want to hear solution to the problems. I just don't want to hear empty promises anymore

    January 27, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
  135. Mary, south Mississippi

    To this president everything. I am a fifty-six year old, white woman, from south Mississippi. You once said that just like Hemingway was destined to write, and Tiger Woods was destined to play golf. That this man was destined to Lead. My only salvation is that at least we don't have McCain and Palin in office. So I am just holding my breath.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm |

    This State of the Union address will only matter if,after Mr Obama gets done praising what good they have done, he accepts the mistakes he and his administration has made , and promises to follow thru with getting both sides of the isle to work together. One sided politics has gotten the american people nowhere. It is obvious that when a bill has only one parties support, this bill is not in the best interest of hte people, Massachusetts stated that loud and clear. He needs to focus on the most important issue facing americans today JOBS & THE ECONOMY. Quit blaming the past for the situation we are in,he knew what he was getting into when he ran for president, the blame game doesn't solve anything. Quit spending money we don't have.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  137. Dee, New York

    I don't know how much the SOTU speeches matter. However, I would like to say that I really like your program, except that the red moving background behind you is giving me vertigo. I hope that I don't have to switch to another network. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  138. Laura Maher

    We are entitled to a day of fantasy for sheer entertainment. Roll out the red carpet for the frog who will become our Prince....if only for one hour!

    Time will determine if our Prince becomes a reality or merely a Toad!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  139. Honest Earl, SC

    Its not so much the speech I'm waiting on Jack, but the republican
    rebuttal by one of South Carolina's finest. Foot in mouth disease Joe Wilson.

    We sure can pick em can't we?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:34 pm |

    Best way to describe Obama's first year in office....Promises Promises not kept/

    January 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  141. Bill

    The CEO of every public company must provide an annual report to the shareholders. The CEO of our nation needs to do the same.

    Bill, Key West, FL

    January 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  142. Janice from Calgary, Alberta

    Most SOTU addresses are great examples of creative writing skills, but if you examine them at the end of the year and compare them to reality, they read like a fantasy novel.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  143. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    It is important! I look forward to the path to be taken this year for changes in the short term and long term!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  144. Carl

    To me, it's just more lies, how about doing something instead of just talking about it. I'am getting sick and tired of seeing Obama on T.V.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  145. Debbie - Boise ID

    Of course they don't matter. No matter how much you want them too. The State of the Union Address is so much like a job interview. The president sits accross the table from you telling you what HE thinks you want to hear; with absolutly no truth behind it.
    If the President would stand up and take accountability (even if HE wasn't the initial cause for todays situation) for the current situation then and only then would the State of the Union Address really matter.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  146. Richard Leavitt

    It makes no sense to watch a speech when all the talking heads and media have already read it and reported on it. I'm fed up with the one upsmanship that pervades the mainstream media.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  147. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    It affects all of us, of course it matters!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  148. Steve D

    They are just something law requires. They are a bogus speech means nothing

    January 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  149. Dave

    Jack, Why don't they just let each of the 5 members of the illuminati give the speech.

    They are the ones who really control us.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm |