This Year's SOTU the First in Which Obama Said the Words "Rich" and "Poor"; Was Written at 8th-Grade Level

Analyzing President Obama's recent State of the Union address, AlterNet's Adele Stan noted that "The president, it seems, has heard the hew and cry from his base, coming out strong against the banks, and laying the economic devastation he inherited at the feet of his predecessor." Given that, it's interesting to note that this was Obama's first SOTU in which he mentioned the words "rich" or "poor." (In fact, this was the first SOTU to mention the word "rich" since the Clinton administration.)

Via the Student Activism blog:

When President Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night that “when Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich,” it was the first time he’d used the word “rich” in a State of the Union speech. And when he said, a few minutes later, that when Americans put on the uniform of our military, “it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor,” it was the first time he’d used the word “poor” on such an occasion.

Over four State of the Union addresses, including his “unofficial” SOTU in February 2009, the president had never used either term before.

Also interesting: according to the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which is used to determine appropriate reading material for students in different grade levels, this SOTU registered at an 8th-grade level -- "the third lowest score of any State of the Union address since 1934" and about on par for Obama, who averages an 8.4 readability level with his SOTUs, per Politico. (According to a University of Minnesota Smart Politics analysis, the average for SOTUs given by Obama's 12 predecessors is 10.4.)

What does it mean? Politico:

Obama's use of simple language is in part a reflection of his audience: the American voter in an election year. And it's part of a larger trend in simpler State of the Union language as the speech as transitioned from a simple address to Congress into a prime-time televised event.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 26, 2012, 5:23am