The State of the Union speech, the fireside chats, the Oval Office addresses – how much difference do presidential speeches really make? Not very much, according to some. In spite of the resources poured into President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, his approval rating only rose 1% after the speech – from 46% to 47% a week later. And forget about the argument that presidential rhetoric might convince opponents to change their minds: most of the time, a president’s ability to persuade someone to adopt a new belief only works if the listener is a member of the same party to begin with. According to today’s guest, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, a good speech can even prevent a president from achieving his goals.
Do you tune in when the president speaks? Would you feel a loss if the State of the Union addresses were stopped? What function do these types of public addresses serve for you?
Ezra Klein, editor of Wonkblog and a columnist at the Washington Post, as well as a contributor to MSNBC and Bloomberg