Melissa Harris-Perry | February 10, 2013
>>> we are previewing president obama 's tuesday night state of the union address . i want to turn to my guests to find out what they think the president will say and what they think he should say. author of "blue grit," suzanne, a republican strategist and msnbc contributor. richard kim , editor of the nation.com and fellow at the lbj school at the university of texas . she's director of communications for latino decisions. laura, how can the president make tuesday night count?
>> what is he going to say -- the state of the union is strong. listening to his speech from the dnc all those years ago, red not blue, we have a very divided nation. one thing is to point out that our congress in predominantly working and middle class country is a congress of billionaires and multimillionaires. i think at the last count, most of them had not more than 1.5% of their work lives ever involved in any kind of manual labor or service industry job. you have a huge division when talking about union. if you want to talk about the political division , the country is red/blue divided like when on the verge of the civil war . i think there's something he could do. last year the state of the union declared the $25 billion housing settlement. a lot of people want to know where has that money gone? it goes to the question of wealth in this country and specifically you talked about it, race. african-americans lost 75% of their wealth. black wealth is at the lowest in 26 years. color of change and a lot of others are saying this is the kind of action to monitor where the money is going. stop the banks as they try and fine every trick they can to distribute the money where it's not needed and raise the issue of wealth and equality. it would be interesting and memorable if they say the state of our economy is improving. the state of our union -- not so good. that would be like if he said we are not unionized because of the inequality.
>> the speeches you showed earlier, they were all on the campaign trail or states of emergency. i think obama's state of the union is overwhelming because it's a cramped environment. that's what he's trying to project. do you remember the 2011 siege? i think this is going to be back to the state of the union speech . it's going to focus on education, energy and infrastructure. it's the same things he laid out for four years in a row. he did it in 2011 . there's nothing wrong with that bipartisan all hands in, call for america to create jobs. he's avoiding conflict in that. he's not willing to push the political leverage to get this done. it failed as an insightment to action. i wonder what he can do new in this setting to move that agenda forward. susan, people watch. this was one of my questions. is it just us? i watched the state of the union . i won't this year because of mardi gras .
>> priorities. what watches. is it the political class? no. people tune in. with the president, it goes up and down. we are talking tens of millions of people who watched the state of the union over the years for the president. one of the things people watch for is that applause line, right? and particularly the partisan nature of it. what are they going to see from republicans? what are they going to applaud and not applaud?
>> it's interesting. the response from marco rubio will provide a greater insight to go back to what he needs to do. he needs to pull the political lever. he took a lot of mixed criticism for his inaugural speech. he's not going to have more than a year to move forward. this is going to determine his legacy. she should be political. as much as he's been trying to unite the country or say he believes this that message, we see the fights. no one believes it. why not draw the line in the sand ? he's been successful. i agree with the policies.
>> i agree with susan. i'm looking for the moment to jump on the republican strategist. okay.
>> as a strategist, that's what you should do. get into what the republicans do to respond to it. also he's in a difficult situation. how much does he go to the economy? everyone is concerned. an issue like gun control which is starting to lose steam in the american public's eye. this is something he should be on. i hope he's successful at it. he could be losing it and have to balance that.
>> who is his audience? i sit down and think when you are talking here, you are preaching to the choir. what i'm interested in and what i think is going to be fascinating is how republicans respond. republicans right now are at a cross roads . they are trying to shake out how they are going to respond the next two years going into the 2014 midterm and into the presidential. marco rubio is giving the official response. rand paul is giving the tea party response. we are going to see how these two republican factions fight it out amongst themselves in response to the president's speech.
>> very specifically on the applause line, what about immigration? rubio is going to give the response. this is one of the places where there isn't that much daylight between the president and the senator on issues of what the immigration plan looks like. it ice brand-new, right? let's be clear. what he makes is the common sense immigration lines. are we going to see the whole chamber stand for those?
>> okay. let's remember, there is that faction of extreme conservative that is only want ward of security. they don't want to see anything but immigration. speaking of rubio's response, it's interesting it's the first time we will see a response in spanish, it's a step in the right direction. you have to have substance behind the style. don't just speak to me in spanish.
>> we are going to stay on tuesday's speech. there's going to be unusual guests in the room. who they are and why they are there,