Politics and Public Opinion, The Presidency

All of Obama’s first-term SOTU addresses in one word cloud

President Obama addresses a special joint session of Congress

Photo Credit: Pete Souza via Whitehouse.gov

We’re big fans of Wordle’s word cloud generator here at AEIdeas. With President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, I thought it would be fun to put the transcript of each of his first four SOTU speeches into one giant word cloud. Note that I removed some of the fluff, such as “America” or “Americans” so that we can get a better look at the meat of the speeches. Without further ado (click the picture to make it bigger):

2.12.13 Obama SOTU Word Cloud Option 1

This gives you a pretty good sense of the president’s rhetorical priorities over the last four years.

The biggest focus is on the economy–”jobs,” “work,” and “businesses” all feature prominently. The president also took the time to praise the people, using that word more than any other, but also words like “workers,” “families,” and “citizens.”

The prominence of budgetary debates during Obama’s first term is evident as well, with “debt” and “deficit” both appearing. The president’s preferred method for solving the budget problem–tax increases–is evident as well: The word “tax” is far bigger than the word “cuts.”

It’s clear that the president has also focused heavily on education, with that word featuring prominently as well as “college,” “students,” and “children.”

Also interesting: The heavy use of words like “years” or “future,” making it clear that Obama is trying to place his speeches within the context of history and is focused on the future, not the past.

Things that are noticeable in their absence: Entitlements, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

We can expect more of the same in tonight’s speech. Indeed, over at Reason, Matt Welch put together a pretty amazing post before President Obama’s 2012 speech showing that all the State of the Union addresses since 1961 have been pretty much interchangeable.

If you’re interested in more about this year’s SOTUA, check out two symposiums of AEI scholars we’ve put together for you.

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