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.

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