LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – President Barack Obama's inauguration speech was seen by many as a progressive coming-out party.
Republicans criticized the President for taking a hard line approach – promoting his policies rather than a mood of bipartisanship.
Democrats countered that Obama had adopted a tone of compromise throughout much of his first term, insisting the President needed to be aggressive with a non-cooperative Republican House.
But Dr. Tim Dale, a Political Science Professor at the UW-La Crosse, said President Obama will take a much softer approach in delivering Tuesday's State of the Union Address.
Dale said the President will likely acknowledge that November's election produced a divided government and that he needs House Republicans to cooperate in order to pass the pieces of legislation he'd like.
"If any policies are going to pass through Congress this term it's going to be because Congress has come together across the aisle," Dale said. "So I think we're going to hear that kind of encouragement -- that these are the things we're going to need cooperation on if we're going to have action."
Dale also said, while the State of the Union is traditionally a theatrical speech – one that's broad and optimistic in ideas but falls short on details – it can mobilize the public for or against the President's goals.
"The President has two methods of promoting policy, through the lawmakers or through the public," Dale said. "Recently, in the modern era of the presidency, Presidents have gone to the public much more than they've gone directly to Congress because voters have much more influence over lawmakers than the President does."
But Dale added public opinion has become less influential in an age of gerrymandered congressional districts.
"Some members of Congress have a comfortable enough majority in their districts that they don't have to worry about it," he said.
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