Politickin' With John Brown: The Most Memorable State of the Union Addresses

Politickin' With John Brown: The Most Memorable State of the Union Addresses


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In his first State Of The Union address, President Obama shied away from any sensationalism and sought to reach all those so-called centrists who get a warm-fuzzy feeling when they hear the word "bipartisan". It's chess not checkers. Yeah he ran down some policy proposals but still had his eyes on elections. The man is not trying to see a Massachusetts domino effect and was spitting his middle-road game to moderate Matthew at home. We'll see if it works.

While Mr. 44 played it safe with his above-the-fray demeanor, others have used the annual address to declare bold new policies or deliver reckless threats. In its 220 years of existence, there's been a whole lot of rhetoric. But here's a look back at some of the most significant State of the Union addresses.

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James Monroe, 1823
• The country's fifth Prez was the first to use the address to call out world rivals. Fearing that Russia and Spain would challenge America's plans to dominate the Western Hemisphere, Monroe proposed his imperialist compromise, humbly called the Monroe Doctrine. Uncle Sam would turn a blind eye to European exploitation of other countries if Europe would have the decency to ignore America's plans for pillaging. Britain cosigned and the west was "won."

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Abraham Lincoln, 1862
• Exactly three years and one day after the abolitionist John Brown was executed, Honest Abe kept it real during his SOTU. Delivering his speech in the midst of a civil war, Lincoln declared: "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free...a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud." Clap for him.

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Grover Cleveland, 1888
• On his way out of office, Cleveland used his final address to take an uncharacteristically harsh shot at big business. Sensing the growth of monetary monarchs, the New Jersey native warned: "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters." Apparently it resonated with the people. Cleveland was elected again five years later - the only President to ever serve two non-consecutive terms.

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JFK, 1961
• The nation's first Catholic Commander-In-Chief inherited a domestic situation similar to the nation's first Black President. With lines like, "the present state of our economy is disturbing" and "bankruptcies have reached their highest level since the Great Depression", you would swear it was 2010. Only difference is that while Obama has date nights with Michelle, Kennedy had late nights with Marilyn.

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George Herbert Bush, 1991
• The Bush clan had a knack for dropping conspiratorial-producing catch phrases at their SOTU speeches. Exactly 10 years before 9/11, the former CIA-chief called for the infamous "New World Order". Two years later, he was ordered out of office and still hasn't grasped the new world.

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Bill Clinton, 1998
• Clinton used his SOTU to regain desperately needed support after getting his JFK on with an intern. Only a week after the Washington Post accused him of lying about smooshing Lewinsky's face, Clinton faced the nation. Instead of resigning, Bubba echoed the common sentiment that "blow jobs were better than no jobs" and his popularity numbers rebounded. Lewinsky, on the other hand, was eternally on the rebound.

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George W. Bush, 2001
• The only thing more frightening than 9/11 was knowing that Bush was leading the country in a time of peril. Sounding like John Wayne's understudy, the failed businessman warned the world: "You're either with us or against us". Option's a beautiful thing.

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George W. Bush, 2002
• They say talk is cheap, but Dubya's speeches cost the nation an arm and a leg - literally. High on a blood-thirsty power trip, the country's worst President named his Top 3 dead or alive evildoers, and set the tone to invade Iraq. Gee, that was money and lives well spent.

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Barack Obama, 2010
• Obama achieved his level of power by shaping his attitude as a mediator of partisan clashes while appealing to the world of compromise. Safe but kind of boring. He threw softball shots at the GOP and then slapped Democrats with a white glove. But with all the posturing for voters, winning elections seems irrelevant if nothing gets done while you're there.

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BONUS: Dubya's Real SOTU Speech
• An internets classic.

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