The Cycle | February 11, 2013
>>> fills you up right.
>>> white house insiders say to expect more aggressive approach from the president in tomorrow night's state of the union speech . gone is the olive branch which the president will reportedly now use to draw a line in the sand .
>> his emphasis on the need to continue to create jobs or need to continue to have the manufacturing sector expand, that work isn't done so you can believe he'll continue to focus on that.
>> while jobs and the economy takes center stage , insiders say to watch for a tighter focus on the middle class , infrastructure and the environment and touched on in the inaugural address and starting wednesday the president will hit the road, takes the message to residents of north carolina , georgia and north carolina . our next guest was a speechwriter for president clinton . including four state of the union addresses. michael waldman is executive director of the brennan center for justice at nyu. welcome.
>> great to be with you.
>> what's the strategy behind a more aggressive maybe antagonist kind of message that we might hear tomorrow night?
>> well, one of the things is that it seems to be working. i think that his inaugural address , for example, was to me the best speech he's given as president. it didn't have some of the drabness and caution of some of his earlier speeches. it said something. and so, i think that if he keeps going with that approach of boldness and ambition it is not that everything he says is enacted in to law but he'll be able to make a case to the country and with some vivid colors and strong arguments.
>> and the country wants to hear a lot about jobs which was relatively unmentioned in the inauguration. he mentioned jobs three times and not really in the context of job growth or creation. do you expect that to be a focal point tomorrow night?
>> you are right one area he talked about in the inaugural was his theory of the role of government and didn't really wade in to the budget fights and the immediate things facing the congress and him on the economy. i think what his challenge is is to kind of make an argument to the public that it's really not just about who can cut the deficit more and the debt, who can trim government but what's an overall economic strategy for investing now while imposing fiscal discipline down the road where it's really needed and that's a case he has an opportunity to make with, you know, with millions of people watching .
>> so one of the changes for the second term in the white house is that the president's long-time speech writer favreau is gone and as somebody there on the inside, what that transition is like from one speechwriter to another, what that's like for president obama or for any president and also in terms of what we see and what we hear as voters, as americans, is there going to be a slightly different voice for obama because there's a new speechwriter?
>> we don't. it's like a favorite tv show and aaron sorkin left the show. is it going to change now that he's gone or something like that? you know, with president obama as was the case with president clinton and most of these folks, it's their voice and they are deeply involved in the writing of a speech like the state of the union . it's not as if they're kind of handed a piece of paper or someone points at the teleprompter and tells them to look. it is a bit of a transition. john favreau president obama 's speechwriter in the first term had a close relationship with him going back to the campaign and worked with him and writes. he actually works on a laptop and works on text, you know. it really varies quite a bit. president clinton whom i worked with for many years, he wrote but he especially wrote speeches talking out loud, by trying outlines and whole paragraphs. a lot of what we try to do is capture what he was saying.
>> michael , i want to hear more about theor a state of the union , how much typically is the president involved and how long does it take? how close to the actual delivering of it is it actually finished? how many people tend to get involved? because it's not like one person writes it and the president edits it.
>> right. not a job for a lonely poet. you know? up in the garrett writes prose. i used to joke the state of the union , we would install a round keyboard in my office so everybody could type at once. state of the union speech is not just about getting applause, it is not even just what the people at home think. it's the governing document, it's an agenda for the administration and the president will hope for the whole country so it's an elaborate process of deciding what goes in, what policies are significant and then what are some of the policy details so let me give you an example of what i'm interested in hearing. on election night , and then in his inaugural address , the president said that he thought it was wrong for people to have to wait in line as long as they did in elections and really called for reforming the ramshackle way we run elections in this country and i'm hoping to put forward some of the ideas for modernizing voter registration . that sort of things and can have a big impact in building momentum for an issue same with climate change , same with gun violence and other things like that.
>> and well michael , we are on the same wave length there with election reform and i understand the brennan center put out a study making the case for voter registration modernization. you're the executive director of that organization. kind what kind of details do you want to see from the president on that issue in particular?
>> well, i don't think any president is going to get in to all the weeds, i hope, of the details of policy. but and that's an example of making it clear that there are steps you can take to modernize voter registration so it's no longer a paper based error-filled system. national standards for early voting and for election administration . those are the kinds of things that eater in a speech or after that and administration can send a signal. same kind of thing on climate change . i thought the president was terrific not only said we needed to do something but called out those deniers of climate change in the inaugural but, of course, his attempt to enact legislation didn't work out in the first term. i would like to know what kinds of things he is thinking and talking about. the goal should not just be what can i get passed in the next six months but lay out an argument to the country of what kind of country we ought to be and drive toward it over four years and again i thought that his inaugural address was so powerful. it suggested that maybe he feels a little liberated by the re-election to do that kind of thing.
>> does he mention drones tomorrow night?
>> hmm. i doubt it.
>> you doubt it?
>> i doubt it. he might, though. he might because he might want to make his argument that it's kept the country safer.
>> right. we'll see.
>> isn't his official position, what's a drone?
>> what drone program?
>> he will not drone on.
>> michael , thank you very much.
>>> in case you missed that, that's thanks very much. toure was yelling over it. here ats msnbc we're asking you to fill in the blank. i say it's full of promise. but we want to hear how you finish the statement. gregory dean says it's great political theater .
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>>> up next, today's development out of the vatican is just the latest twist of in centuries of secrets. we're spinning on the story everybody's talking about today, next. [ male