On the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Andrew Young—former U.N. ambassador, congressman, Atlanta mayor and civil rights activist—remembers the day and talks about laws affecting ballot access today. He's joined by Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a former chief speechwriter to President Clinton.
President Obama delivered his third annual State of the Union Address last night. Obama focused primarily on income inequality. Jettisoning his normally conciliatory tone, the president instead highlighted the differences between right and left with impassioned rhetoric. Vowing to protect middle class families with mortgage assistance legislation, he also outlined his plans to institute the "Buffet rule" which would require those making over $1 billion to pay a 30 percent tax rate.
More than a dozen states have passed new laws that civil rights advocates say will discourage minority turnout at the polls in next year's elections. The laws range from laws requiring voters to present a photo ID before casting their ballot, to restrictions on early voting and new rules that make it harder for former felons to vote. A study by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice estimates the law will impact more than five million voters and could well alter the turnout of a close election.
Yesterday, President Obama held the first ever White House Twitter Town Hall meeting. The president fielded questions from Twitter users (asked in the site's standard 140 characters or less). But the president's answers were anything but concise. In fact, he responded to participants' questions with the same long-winded, professorial rhetoric he's been criticized for throughout his presidency. Obama's ability to address his base and stimulate audiences was perhaps his greatest strength as a candidate in 2008. This begs the question: Why has President Obama failed to properly get his messages across to the American people since then?
As we anticipate President Obama’s second State of the Union Address, we’re reminiscing about our favorite presidential speeches — and thinking about what makes a speech great. Michael Waldman joins us. He’s a former Clinton speechwriter and the author of "My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America's Presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush."
How does the president and the White House prepare for such a major event as the State of the Union? Jen Psaki, deputy communications director for the White House, says that this is an opportunity for the president to talk about what to expect in the future. But how much of this speech is just a laundry list and how much is a real opportunity to talk to the public about moving forward?