The impact of the State of the Union speech depends on the state of the president when he delivers it.
And, tonight, the political state of the president is precarious.
Sure the politicians will cheer and applaud him, just as they did last year and every year...
And the latest pictures show the president smiling as he puts the final touches on his speech.
"I think the tone is right," said the president.
Then it will have to be a different tone. Because, in a new NBC News poll, only 43% approve of the president's performance and 63% think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
To turn those numbers around, the president tonight will try to strike out on his own, without congress. For example, he'll use his executive power to raise the minimum
Wage in future federal contracts.
But even before his speech, Republicans are promising a fight: "We know from increases of minimum wage in the past that thousands of low income Americans have lost their jobs," said House Speaker John Boehner.
What the president needs most in 2014 is to recapture the spirit of 2004: "As we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us...well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America, there's the United States of America!" said Illinois State Senator Barack Obama at the 2004 DNC in Boston.
The purpose of a State of the Union speech is to inspire.
Tonight, the most important person the president needs to inspire is himself.
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