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The Conversation: President Obama round-up brought to you by the letter C

January 24, 2011 |  1:31 pm

In anticipation of Tuesday's State of the Union Address, there are a few themes that are top of mind.

Center:

"Barack Obama has moved to the center, and it is working — politically. Most Americans want a president who can deal with both parties and gets things done," writes Fareed Zakaria for the Washington Post in "Can Obama Get It Right on the Economy?" He goes on to explain where Republicans and Democrats butt heads on the economy and concludes, "If Obama gets his State of the Union right, he will show Americans that bipartisanship is not simply an exercise in political theater but can produce better policies than ideologically driven agendas. It will remind Americans why they elected him in the first place."

Over on Daily Kos, Joan McCarter writes, "The political center of the country, not the Washington establishment, has made Social Security sacrosanct. That's the political center Obama should be joining, and redefining to do just as Clinton did — use it as a pivot point against the extreme Republicans."

Compromise:

In the Christian-Science Monitor, Jacob Bronsther expresses some frustration in "What Does President Obama Really Believe?" "It's not that he breaks his policy promises more than other politicians. It's not that he seeks compromise — a virtue. It's not even that his policies are wrongheaded. It's the fact that when he compromises, when he reaches policy conclusions, there's no sense that it derives from anything other than ad hoc balancing."

And the almighty Competition:

 "Meet the new buzzword, same as the old buzzword," writes The New York Times' Paul Krugman in "The Competition Myth." "The President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board has been renamed the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. And in his Saturday radio address, the president declared that 'We can out-compete any other nation on Earth.' " While "competition" may be a motivator of a word and good for politics, he argues that " 'competitiveness' as a goal is fundamentally misleading. At best, it's a misdiagnosis of our problems. At worst, it could lead to policies based on the false idea that what's good for corporations is good for America."

On Obama's need to "foster competitiveness and innovation in the pursuit of American jobs," the New York Times editorial board writes, "The top of his agenda should be explaining to the public why job creation and growth are more important than short-term spending cuts, and why those two paths are incompatible. Now is the time for a full-throated statement about the need for federal investment in infrastructure, education and state aid. He should capitalize on his new team of business-oriented advisers to explain which industries he believes will provide the jobs, and show what he is prepared to do to foster that growth."

For Obama, though, there may be only one word that really matters: Independents

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— Alexandra Le Tellier

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