Question: From a leadership perspective--moving the country and the political process away from division and gridlock and toward consensus, confidence and action--how would you grade President Obama's State of the Union speech?
I would give the President a B.
The president gets points for presenting a clear view of the tough situation we face: the U.S. is behind in education and technology, our infrastructure is crumbling and our spending, unemployment and debt are too high. Global competition is a reality. At the same time, the economy is growing again and we have started to reform education through policies like the "Race to the Top".
He was also able to reach out to others: the Republicans and our allies around the world. He provided a vision for the future--"reform, responsibility and innovation." He inspired us to get America back up and moving because we can "do big things." We are a country where "anything is possible, no matter who you are." He provided solutions for how to move forward: we will need to "freeze annual domestic spending for five years," cut the size of government and make it more efficient, support the education of our children in our homes and in our schools, and innovate, innovate, innovate.
So why not an A? This was not an exciting speech, and there was not a lot of detail on how to move forward. There was no dramatic plan for dealing with a deficit that threatens our future or with unemployment today. There was little mention of the poor who have suffered so much in this recession nor a plan for how to get this new generation to become the teachers that we need. So he made us feel proud to be Americans, but he left out a comprehensive way to move forward.