1. Unbowed and Self-Assured: It is suggested in the article, “For an hour on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama commanded the biggest stage he will have all year, unbowed and self-assured, laying out an expansive and expensive legislative agenda as if he were the one ho had triumphed.” What is the likely outcome of Mr. Obama coming across “unbowed and self-assured?” Are there any other ways he could have come across at the end of the speech that would have been more effective in building relationships and accomplishing his goals? Why do you think, at this point in his presidency, he (and others on his staff) decided to come across this way?
2. Bold Leadership: Mr. Baker goes on to say, “For all of Mr. Obama’s confident demeanor, the question raised by the speech was whether advancing initiatives with little or no hope of passage constituted an act of bold leadership or a feckless waste of time.” In your opinion, do you believe this is an act of bold leadership or a feckless waste of time? What is bold leadership? In what context is it an effective style of leadership? Is the State of the Union address (in 2015) one of those contexts where bold leadership is likely to be effective? What type of leadership would you recommend for Mr. Obama moving forward?
3. Hard Times: Barbara Kellerman writes in her new book, Hard Times: Leadership in America, “Notwithstanding his [Mr. Obama] naiveté, his obvious lack of sophistication about the ways of the nation’s capital, there is ample evidence that he did not care to familiarize himself with the larger political and social contexts within which the White House itself was embedded. By and large Obama remained cocooned in the Oval Office, reluctant to leave it either to socialize or to wheel and deal in ways that near certainly would have been politically advantageous.” How important is it for the President of the United States in the twenty-first century to be effective at building relationships and/or “wheeling and dealing” with individuals who have diverse political agendas? How has that changed over the last 100 years? It is suggested in the article that the speech may have left “both sides as divided as ever.” What recommendation would you provide to the President of the United States to start repairing the divide in Washington? What are the first steps you would take to address this growing division between the two parties?