Obama Priorities Revealed in State of the Union Speech

(CBS/ AP)
President Obama wasn't off page one of 13 before he got to his central theme of his first State-Of-The-Union address: jobs and the economy.

An early buzz word: "burden" – "this recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades – the burden of working harder and longer for less..." he said.

He then quickly moved to dispel the notion that he's done more for the banks then the middle class.

Speaking on the bank bailout – "and if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal."

But he said, had the administration not done it, "more businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost."

Overall, the vast focus of tonight's speech was the economy. The speech ran 70 minutes, and of that, about 22 minutes, or a little less than one-third was devoted solely to talking about the economy in some form. He also got 91 applause lines. He registered 3 laugh lines.

Under his economic talk, was a call for clean energy legislation and a push for nuclear power AND off-shore drilling, a surprise out-reach to Republicans.

After talking about proposals to spur job growth, Mr. Obama went on. He then touched on all of these topics: education for about 3 minutes, health care for about five, the budget and deficit control for six minutes.

Special Report: Obama's 2010 State of the Union

From there he hit on government free of lobbyists and special interest influence, the recent Supreme Court decision, earmark reform, his own election and reforming the way Washington works for about 4 minutes. Then onto security for about six minutes, including: Al Qaeda (no mention of Pakistan by the way) and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, ridding the world of nuclear weapons, and North Korea. Then he spoke about international development and common security for two minutes, including the G-20 and Haiti, before moving to civil rights, mentioning a push for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and then onto American values, his campaign promise of change, politics, and what's great about America.

His last five minutes focused on the role of Washington to help solve problems in America and the reasons why so many Americans are cynical with the process of politics and the need to turn the corner to "start anew."

In all, it was a far reaching speech, one where Mr. Obama stepped above the partisan fray and showed humility in the process. He took blame in two instances for failures in his administration, on health care legislation, he said: "I take my share of blame for non explaining it more clearly to the American people."

But he said that he didn't push health care reform to score a political victory, but to help Americans. He also renewed his push for the controversial legislation: "Do not walk away from reform. Not Now. Not where we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done," he said.

He stepped over the political divide --- lecturing congress to "put aside the schoolyard taunts" on security. He reminded the Democrats in the room that they "still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills."

To the Republicans, he said "the responsibility to govern is now yours as well." He then lambasted their opposition – "just saying no to everything may be good short term politics, but it's not leadership."

Summing up his lecture, he said "We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions."

In summing up the speech, the president returned to humility and compassion for the burden of average Americans.

"Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year," he said.

Below, check out this "world cloud" from Worldle.net that gives another perspective on Mr. Obama's priorities in his address:



More Coverage:

Obama Vows to Fight for Jobs
Full Text of Obama's Speech
Bob McDonnell: The Government Is "Trying to Do Too Much"
Poll: 83% of Viewers Approve of Obama's Plans
Obama's Speech Leveraged His Strengths
Photos: The State of the Union
Full Video of Obama's State of the Union
Katie Couric's Webcast: Analysis and Interviews
Poll Questions: You Vote on Obama's Plans
Special Report: Obama's 2010 State of the Union

Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.

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