Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has repeatedly said he isn't set on just implementing his own agenda -- if other people have ideas, he wants to hear them. In fact, the day after the 2014 elections when Republicans expanded their majority in the House and took control of the Senate, the president said, "I am very eager to hear Republican ideas for what they think we can do together over the next couple of years." But when it comes to the Republican response to his Tuesday State of the Union address, however, the president doesn't seem too interested in the American public hearing those Republican ideas.
Beginning with an email from Joe Biden last Friday night, the Obama administration is doing what it can to encourage viewers to eschew the traditional network broadcasts of the State of the Union and the subsequent response (this year from the new Iowa senator, Joni Ernst,) and instead view the president's speech online on the White House website. To hear the vice president tell it, watching the speech on WhiteHouse.gov is even better than hearing it on the floor of the House because online viewers get an "enhanced" speech.
[N]ew technologies have transformed the address from a simple letter to Congress into something that was broadcast over the radio and then over the television -- and the Founding Fathers wouldn't believe how folks are able to watch the speech today.
I'm telling you this because now the very best place you can watch the speech is not on the House floor -- it's at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.
There, you'll find all kinds of charts and graphics and data that you give a deeper look at the points the President will make in his speech. Because, as citizens, every one of us ought to be as informed as we possibly can about the actions our government takes. That's exactly what this "enhanced" speech does.
You won't just get an opportunity to hear, straight from the President, where we stand as a nation and what this Administration wants to see happen this year -- you'll get context that helps tell the story of where we've been and what these ideas mean for you personally.
hat the vice president fails to mention is that what viewers won't get is Sen. Joni Ernst delivering the Republican response. If viewers wish to hear Senator Ernst, they'll need to flip on the television for the regular broadcast, or click over to www.gop.gov/sotu, where the Republicans will be streaming the response live.
The email from the vice president is not the only way the White House is trying to attract online viewers. As of this weekend, visitors to WhiteHouse.gov are greeted by a banner declaring that the website is the "very best place to experience" the president's speech Tuesday.
Visitors who click the "I'm In" button are invited to "RSVP to Watch" the speech online. The site asks for an email address and zip code; a message then appears:
Thanks for saying you'll be watching. We'll be in touch soon. Now, let us know what you want to get done in the time we have left.
The link is to a feedback survey with a laundry list of issues important to the Obama administration, and visitors are asked to select their "top priority" and explain why that issue is most important to them. Items listed include making college affordable, addressing climate changes, reforming the tax code, and ensuring equal pay for women. There is no "other" selection for those who might not see their issue listed.
The president's speech is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern Time, Tuesday, January 20. The Republican response by Sen. Ernst immediately follows his speech; there's no word about whether or not the president will be watching.