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The Blue & Gray Press | April 22, 2018

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Obama speaks to nation

President Barack Obama addressed the United States in the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 28, focusing on themes such as opportunity and executive action. The hour long speech pulled from the personal experiences of many citizens in order to supplement Obama’s push for action in 2014.
Headlines of various national newspapers focused on Obama’s claim that he will act alone to work on improving the economy, through executive orders, if Congress is unwilling to compromise and work together.
He promised “a year of action,” and laid out a new plan in which he will use his executive authority if not working with Congress.
“America will not stand still-and neither will I,” said Obama. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Other aspects of the speech touched on Obama’s push to pass comprehensive immigration reform, something that has been up for debate since Obama was originally elected in 2008.
Another major focus throughout the speech was on the promotion of equality of opportunity within the U.S., applying to both the pay gap between men and women and easier access to higher education. Similar to last year’s State of the Union, Obama once again promoted increasing the minimum wage, this time recommending a wage $10.10 per hour.
The speech also touched briefly on American diplomacy with countries such as Syria and Iran.
Over time, the State of the Union developed from a written statement, to a high definition live televised event. Before it gained the moniker of State of the Union in 1947, which was given by Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was referred to as the president’s annual address.
Woodrow Wilson started the concept of making the speech an annual, televised event. He saw it as a possibility to make the presidency “more than an impersonal institution and active and visible presidential leadership was needed to the people and the Congress,” according to the American Presidency Project.
After the move to television, Lyndon Johnson decided to speak during primetime in order to get a bigger television audience. Before that point, the speech was aired during midday time.
Bill Clinton owns the record for the longest speech in both words spoken and minutes. His speech in 1995 was 9,190 words, almost half of them were extemporaneous, and his speech in 2000 last one hour, 28 minutes and 49 seconds, according to U.S. News.
The first State of the Union to be streamed online occurred in 2002, with president George W. Bush. That speech in particular is known for the “axis of evil” phrase that was used.