State of the Union Special Report
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A selection of opinion pieces and editorials from The Washington Post on President Clinton's past State of the Union addresses.

1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993

1999


A Pass on Medicare
January 22, 1999
The position the president took on Medicare in his State of the Union address was all dessert, no spinach. In that sense, it was emblematic of much else about the speech – a call to benefits, with costs deferred.– Editorial

Clinton's One Big Idea
January 22, 1999
Cutting taxes might be a better idea. But retiring the debt is good enough. Good enough to merit bipartisan and grateful support from everyone. – Charles Krauthammer

The Dance of Clintonism
January 22, 1999
This week's State of the Union address may be the purest performance ever of the Dance of Clintonism. If you like the choreography, you see a brilliant mind at work. If you dislike the show, you see gimmickry and manipulation. – E. J. Dionne Jr.

Revamping Social Security
January 21, 1999
The proposals the president laid out in the State of the Union address wouldn't solve the Social Security problem. They go only part way – and provide the framework for a solution. – Editorial

Two Bill Clintons
January 21, 1999
Republicans who argue it's more important to cut taxes 10 percent now than to preserve and improve Social Security have a tough case to make. Maybe even tougher than impeachment. – David S. Broder

Speech in the Dark
January 21, 1999
The speech was classic Clinton – long, too long, much too long and rhetorically banal. If possible, it will shoot his ratings even higher since, among other things, it promised something for just about every group under the sun – the exception being Republicans after his scalp. – Richard Cohen

State of the Union
January 20, 1999
The president's approach to the extraordinary circumstances under which any State of the Union address would have to be delivered was policy-as-usual. – Editorial

The Importance of the Speech
January 19, 1999
The speech will underscore the utter strangeness of the Senate debate. – E.J. Dionne Jr.

Rulers In Gridlock
January 19, 1999
Judging by the samples from his goody-bag Clinton has been handing out in speeches for the past two weeks, he will once again promise Americans not only a balanced budget but an array of attractive mini-initiatives his polling says are sure winners with the public. – David S. Broder

1998


The Political Costs
January 30, 1998
The problem for Clinton is this: Democratic solidarity won't be there as long as these charges hover over him. And Republicans won't have to worry much about the Clinton program as long as the news is dominated by sex and tapes and dark intimations of perjury. – E.J. Dionne Jr.

State of the Union
January 29, 1998
The continuing, public performance of Clinton's duties has become, for now, the central element in the president's defense. – Editorial

Great Speech – Too Bad
January 29, 1998
In the end, it was a sad speech for the question it left unanswered: Who, exactly, is this man giving the speech?– Richard Cohen

1997


The State of the Union
February 6, 1997
President Clinton chose Tuesday night to give a feel-good speech that mostly swept past the serious problems he and the Congress face. – Editorial

Infantile Spectacle
February 6, 1997
The state of the Union address should carry a surgeon general's warning: "This is harmful to the reputations of the president and the congressional audience, and can cause a spike of cynicism in the watching minority – thank goodness it is that – of the citizenry." – George F. Will

1996


East Coast Oscar Night
January 25, 1996
The State of the State of the Union is not good. Can't it just go back to, say, a serious speech and an audience that behaves as if its members were grown-up, responsible, normal people concerned with the way the country is governed? – Editorial

Advantage Clinton
January 25, 1996
Clinton's address aggravated GOP frustration. While he adopted conservative rhetoric in proclaiming that "the era of big government is over," all his proposals involve government action. – Robert D. Novak

Surrendering His Way to Strength
January 25, 1996
President Clinton struck the requisite tone of ambivalence in his state of the union address: The state of the union is amazingly improved, thanks to his three years, but all gains could crumble if he is not retained. – George F. Will

1995


The Speech the People Heard
January 31, 1995
The Clinton White House is having fun with Washington's very favorite political cliche: that while the commentators "inside the Beltway" had little good to say about the president's State of the Union address, "real people" liked the speech just fine. – E. J. Dionne Jr.

Two Liberal Losers
January 29, 1995
President Clinton's turbid State of the Union address was a metaphor for modern government – sprawling, metastasizing, undisciplined, approaching self-parody, aesthetically excruciating. – George F. Will

Satisfying Nobody
January 26, 1995
The degree to which Bill Clinton was adrift in his endless State of the Union address became clear when he asked for an increase in the minimum wage but did not specify how much. – Robert D. Novak

All Mush and No Message
January 26, 1995
Marshall McLuhan said the medium is the message. If so, Bill Clinton's medium was his State of the Union address, and its message was that he still lacks discipline. – Richard Cohen

An Opportunity Missed
January 26, 1995
If self-discipline is the requisite of leadership – and it is – then President Clinton's State of the Union address dramatized his failure. It was a speech about everything, and therefore about nothing. – David S. Broder

1994


Republicans and the President
January 28, 1994
Most Republicans conceded that Mr. Clinton gave a fine State of the Union speech. But they quickly accused him of intellectual property theft. – Editorial

Silver-Tongued Presidency
January 28, 1994
To watch what Clinton did with his State of the Union address, a hopeless jumble brought to life with fluency and emotional power, is to see a man who ranks with Reagan and John Kennedy as the great rhetorical presidents of the postwar era. – Charles Krauthammer

Clinton's Reaganesque Ritual
January 27, 1994
The State of the Union speech has by now been institutionalized as an extravaganza. President Clinton, who is extremely competitive, honored all the rituals: unbounded promises, unedited rhetoric and unlimited applause lines. – Mary McGrory

1993


Preside and Conquer
February 21, 1993
President Clinton's State of the Union message was a speech, of course, but much more than that. It was like watching fireworks on a river – each burst was reflected, magnified, extended beyond its moment. – Mary McGrory

Contributions to the Common Pot
February 19, 1993
President Clinton's State of the Union message may have been the best speech he ever delivered for its insistence on understanding the difference between "spending" and "investment" and for its understanding that the sum of the interests of the various subgroups is not necessarily the interest of America. – William Raspberry

Clinton's Race Against Time
February 19, 1993
The spectacular selling job by Bill Clinton Wednesday night in convincing Americans they really want massive new taxes is recognized by the president's congressional allies as a temporary reprieve that must be exploited quickly. – Rowland Evans and Robert Novak

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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