NBC News   |  January 28, 2014

NBC News Experts Review Obama's Speech

A panel of NBC News political experts weigh in on President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> chuck, you covered the president. the speech was the work mostly of a young man named cody keenan although it bore the president's hand in black sharpie as he likes to do every night in the residence to a great degree. you noted while we were watching together, he pulled a punch here and there where he might have taken a light shot at the supreme court on voting rights . he chose to say that it was diminished and members of both parties are working to fix it. he was strong on education, strong on immigration, and seemed to hit a stride midway through, used humor and feistiness the second half.

>> i thought it was a well-crafted speech. the president and cody, clearly it was very much -- had a rhythm to it. but this was not going to be confused with an ambitious state of the union . it is a moderate agenda. you pointed out the politics here. i thought what was interesting about the speech was it was a political speech without being partisan. here's what i mean about that. he was very careful to make sure every new agenda item that he had was something that the democratic party could unite on and run on without dividing the democratic party . there was not much he said tonight that was going to offend any democrats. and that was one of the goals that congressional democrats wanted the president to meet here. which was give the party something to run on that's not health care . and if you look at it from just the political prism, i'd argue he succeeded in keeping his party united in a tough election year.

>> here's another part of the job . these are not citizens at a rope line event. these are all elected members of congress. all of them wanting the president's signature on the official program of the state of the union for this night in the house chamber. and the president is so close to the back door, he can see it.

>> right there.

>> by the way, those are sometimes political opponents that want his autograph. it is a little bipartisan.

>> contrast from a year ago when the president during the state of the union made this impassioned call to end gun violence . tonight, two sentences about guns in the state of the union . he has decided to move on.

>> and a big theme in appealing to women which is the democratic party agenda as well. the wage inequality, something we first reported as part of the shriver report. maria met with the president.

>> with all the talk about the president entering this period where lame duck has been tossed around, this period in his second term, it was david remnick in the new yorker magazine, a long article, a long sustained access interview with the president over many stops who put a sentence in the middle of the article to reset everyone's expectations and remind us what it took to get here. and i'm going to quote from it. a president after all who, quote, won two terms as only 17 of 44 presidents have and did so as a black man with an african father and a peculiar name. one consonant away from the world's most notorious terrorist. something everybody forgets in the game here.

>> i think it was because of that being so unlikely that there was so much projected onto him because he was thinking singular figure. and i think the president is still trying to recover from the leadership deficiencies he's had actually operating in washington given this auroa that surrounded him.

>> two pictures to show you. the moment when he talked about the first lady's background, his own and how a son of a tavern owner from ohio can grow up to be the speaker of the house . so there's that one. and the other development since we've been on the air, for all the politics and back and forth going on under that dome, it's almost a frank capra movie. the snow has started falling in the nation's capital. motorcades