Obama’s State of the Union Is Not As Important As You Think It Is

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We understand that tomorrow's State of the Union address is very important for President Obama. With health care on its death bed, the voting masses in clear revolt, and a potentially disastrous midterm election looming, Obama is tasked with convincing both the nation's struggling middle class and his own increasingly skeptical base that he still deserves their confidence and trust. Accordingly, you're probably hearing that the speech is "the most important" of his "young presidency," or even of his political career. (Side note: At what point can you no longer refer to a presidency as "young"?) Then again, you've also heard the same thing about pretty much every speech he's given of any discernible import. Let's take a look back at this history of hyperbole.

Race Speech, March 18, 2008:

• "...the usual hum of polite chatter briefly went silent yesterday as each man fixed his gaze on one of the half-dozen wall-mounted televisions tuned to the most important speech of Barack Obama's political career." - Maria Szaniszlo, Boston Herald

• "Barack Obama finished what may be the most important speech of his career just after 11:30 Tuesday morning. By noon, some pundits were proclaiming the 37-minute speech one of the most important of all time." - Bill Duryea, St. Petersburg Times

DNC Convention Speech, August 28, 2008:

• "When Barack Obama takes to the podium tonight...it will be the most important speech of his life." - San Diego Union-Tribune editorial

• "Sen. Barack Obama...makes the most important speech of his career tonight..." - John Farmer, Newark Star-Ledger

• "It was the most important speech of the Illinois senator's life..." - Adam C. Smith, St. Petersburg Times

• "The symbolism will be on overdrive when Barack Obama emerges...to deliver the most important speech of his career." - Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant

• "On Thursday night, in perhaps the most important speech of his political career, he answered back." - Dan Balz, Washington Post

Inauguration Speech, January 20, 2009:

• "After taking the oath, Obama will make the most important speech of his life." - Caroline Graham, Times of London

• "He told the crowd he had to keep his remarks short, saving them for his inaugural address, the most important speech he's ever made." -CBS News's Chip Reid

• "He has consulted the history books and no doubt drafted and redrafted the most important speech of his life..." - Matt Frei, BBC

• "Tonight, the pressure is on Barack Obama to put the finishing touches on the most important speech he has ever given." - CNN's Campbell Brown

Not State of the Union Speech, February 24, 2009:

• "...on the eve of the most important speech of his young presidency. " - Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr.

Cairo Speech, June 4, 2009:

• "...perhaps the most important speech of his presidency so far: an address to the Muslim world in Cairo on Thursday." - Ed Pilkington, Guardian

• "Barack Obama gave perhaps the most important speech of his young presidency Thursday..." - Baltimore Sun editorial

• "It was the most important speech of Barack Obama's young presidency." - Gary Kamiya, Salon

Joint Address to Congress on Health-Care Reform, September 9, 2009:

• "Conventional wisdom holds that it will be among the most important speeches of his political career." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial

• "Tonight's the night when Barack Obama — in what may well be the most important speech of his fledgling presidency — goes before a joint session of Congress..." - New York Post editorial

• "The day after the most important speech of his presidency, Barack Obama had the satisfaction of a poll..." - Giles Whittell, Times of London

• "...a young President prepares to deliver the most important speech of his first term in office..." - CBS News's Katie Couric

Afghanistan Speech, December 1, 2009
:

• "On Tuesday, he'll outline that mission and give what many say may be the most important speech of his presidency." - ABC News's Rachel Martin

• "It will be the most important speech of his presidency." - ABC News's Nick Shiffrin

• "In just a few moments, the president will deliver what is perhaps the most important speech of his administration..." - NPR's Michelle Norris