The Washington Post

The State of the Union speech — in word clouds

When President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, he will be matched up against and compared to many of his predecessors.

But while the tone of the speech will be whatever Obama makes it, the words used will likely be very similar to State of the Unions past.

Below is a look at word clouds from State of the Union speeches delivered by many of America's best-known presidents, including Obama's 2011 address (courtesy of the Guardian).

Notice how many of the most-used words are popular throughout just about all of the speeches: "America," "people," "government," "Congress," and "war" -- depending upon the important issues of the time, of course.

One area of significant difference that caught our eye, though, is Obama's frequent use of the word "jobs" and "work." Even as Ronald Reagan's 1985 speech came at a time of significant economic uncertainty and unemployment, for example, he focused on "spending, "growth," "inflation," "deficits" and "recovery" rather than jobs.

That's a pretty good analog for the ideological differences between the two parties in Washington today.

Expect another heavy dose of jobs talk Tuesday night. The question is whether Obama will also take a page out of Reagan's book and focus on issues of "spending" (which Obama has mentioned, but not as much), or whether he will go left on that issue. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for instance, has posited that Washington doesn't actually have a spending problem.

Obama's White House has said that Washington does, in fact, have something of a spending problem. But his emphasis (or lack thereof) on that issue will say a lot about his positioning in the continuing economic debates.

It's certainly something to keep an eye on Tuesday night.

Follow Aaron on Twitter at @FixAaron

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
In search of the Delmarva fox squirrel
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Play Videos
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Next Story
Chris Cillizza · February 12, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.