Like Steve, I was struck by President Obama’s threat during “cliff” negotiations to use his inaugural address to blame Republicans for any breakdown in the talks. How Lincolnesque would that be? A speech for the ages.
On reflection, though, we shouldn’t be shocked if Obama attacks the Republicans in his inaugural address and/or his State of the Union speech (which he also threatened to use for this purpose), regardless of what happens in “cliff” talks. Obama has been in full campaign mode since November 6. Why, absent complete capitulation by Republicans, would we expect him to switch to statesman mode in the next month or two? And why, given his attack on the Supreme Court during his most memorable State of the Union speech, would we expect him not to rip Republicans in the upcoming one?
In reality, Obama has never had much luck persuading the American people of anything other than that the Republicans and conservatives are worse than the Democrats and liberals. For example, despite repeated attempts, he couldn’t persuade them that Obamacare is worthwhile. And even when it came to Republican-bashing, he needed Bill Clinton to persuade folks that the Republicans are mainly to blame for the poor economic performance during Obama’s four years. For this, Obama referred to Clinton “the Secretary of Explaining Stuff” (the word “stuff” represented a cleaning up of the original).
Rhetorically, Obama has become a one-trick pony (okay two tricks; he’s good at orations after mass shootings). He’s probably willing to deliver a pedestrian, standard-issue inaugural address and State of the Union speech. But deep down, he’d much rather blast Republicans. It’s whaat he’s about.