Still, as Mr. Obama began speaking, a key uncertainty remained: What balance would he strike between the desire to shape the political terrain for 2016 and the imperatives of governing in 2015? The former required bold initiatives, of a kind likely to evoke sharply negative reactions from Republicans who command majorities in both the House and the Senate. But successful legislating this year will require compromise with those very majorities. Could he thread the needle, making the Democratic political case for next year without undermining the possibility of legislative progress this year?
Yes, in 2015 it’s very, very hard to tell if congressional Republicans would be willing to pass sensible middle-of-the-road compromises. But either way, I think that we can agree that whether it will happen will depend on the precise wording of the State of the Union address.
Meanwhile, enjoy this analysis of Galston’s middlebrow equivalent Ron Fournier.