President Donald J. Trump will give his first formal State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress next Tuesday (Jan. 30). He is expected to reset the narrative that his policy agenda and approval ratings have been damaged by internal chaos and his own behavior by touting his most notable achievements. The speech will be televised live, and several Democratic members of Congress have said they will boycott the speech.
The following University of North Texas faculty members are available to discuss possible topics for the speech and analyze language and themes of the speech.
Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha is the chair of the University of North Texas Department of Political Science. He is the author of "The President’s Speeches: Beyond 'Going Public'" and co-author of "Breaking through the Noise: Presidential Leadership, Public Opinion and the News Media." He has discussed previous State of the Union speeches with members of the media.
Eshbaugh-Soha says this year’s speech "should be a standard strong economy State of the Union address."
"Trump will tout the strong economy — the low unemployment rate, the booming stock market — and will likely pivot onto tax cuts, noting that major legislative accomplishment will continue to feed the economic boom," he says, adding that the recent government shutdown "will play a role in how he will frame ongoing negotiations."
"The speech — as it has also afforded such an opportunity to all presidents — provides President Trump the national platform whereby he may take a clear position on major issues facing Congress, including DACA," Eshbaugh-Soha says. "If past performance is any indication, he is unlikely to do this. And, even if he does, past experience says that he will undermine any clarity in his position with a series of tweets that will confuse negotiations further."
Mark Hlavacik is an assistant professor in the UNT Department of Communication Studies who teaches rhetoric and specializes in education policy. He recently wrote a column for The Conversation on political attacks, past and present, on the U.S. Department of Education.
Hlavacik says many Americans, as well as many political analysts, "will be interested to see how POTUS tells the story of his tumultuous first year in office" during the State of the Union speech. During Trump's campaign, Hlavacik says, "he insisted that the country was in bad shape, panning the economic recovery under Obama and pointing to immigration policies he disagreed with as well as violent crime in urban centers like Chicago."
"Now that he has been in office for a year, he will need to tell a story about his own influence on the nation as his political opponents vie to tell it for him," he says.