Chris Simkins, Voice of America:
Joining us is Thomas Mann, a Senior Fellow of Governance Studies with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Thank you, Mr. Mann, for joining us.
Let’s talk about the President’s State of the Union address. Historically speaking, what significance do these State of the Union addresses have?
The State of the Union is one of those events that have symbolic importance for the country. It’s an occasion of pomp and tradition. It involves a nationally televised audience. It’s an opportunity for the President to try to shape the policymaking agenda to influence public opinion.
On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to say that the speeches themselves lead members of Congress to change their minds on important public policy issues. It’s ritual. It’s agenda setting. But it’s not policymaking.
The countries in the [Asia-Pacific] region want America to lead, but if the U.S. is so politically tied up in knots to not follow through on its promises then countries will have to turn elsewhere. And the U.S. role in the world will never be the same.
“I don’t know how we got to the point that T.P.P. became a pariah; it is the most far-reaching, progressive, important and advantageous trade pact in two decades.”