Saturday, November 1st, 2014

The Obameter

Give annual "State of the World" address

"I'll give an annual 'State of the World' address to the American people in which I lay out our national security policy."


Updates

Six years after promise, still no 'State of the World' address

In a foreign policy speech on October 2, 2007 then-candidate Barack Obama talked about starting a "new era of openness." As one example, he promised to deliver an annual "State of the World" address in which he would outline the United States' foreign policy.

It's been more than six years since Obama made that promise, almost five years since he took office, and nearly four years since we last looked at this promise (and rated it a Promise Broken). So we decided it was time to take a look again.

Obama regularly addresses foreign affairs issues in speeches, statements, press releases and interviews – the VoteSmart database, an archive for public statements, lists almost 800 such examples since Obama became president in 2009.

Obama addresses foreign policy or national security in many speeches when he travels abroad, most recently in St. Petersburg, Russia, or in Berlin. He also delivers some back home, such as his address to the nation on Syria from the White House or his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, both in September, 2013.

But none of those speeches was ever called or defined as a "State of the World" address. Our extensive searches of the White House Web site, an archive of Obama's speeches on VoteSmart.org and Google found no speeches by the name.

The website for a local CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., dubbed Obama's final U.N. speech before the 2012 election his "final 'State of the World' address," but the article doesn't explain this choice of words, and as far as we can tell, they just meant it as a catchy headline.

When we reached out to the White House, the press office confirmed that Obama "has not delivered regular 'State of the World speeches' as envisioned in 2007." Besides his numerous other speeches on foreign policy, they pointed out that Obama discusses his "key national security priorities" in his annual State of the Union address.

After five years as president, Obama still hasn't delivered a single one of his annual "State of the World" addresses. And there is no sign that he ever will. This one stays at Promise Broken.

Sources:

Barack Obama, foreign policy speech, DePaul University in Chicago, Oct. 2, 2007, via Council on Foreign Relations

Remarks by President Obama at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2013

Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France after Bilateral Meeting, G20 Summit Site, St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 6, 2013

Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Syria, Sept. 10, 2013

CBS DC, "Obama To Deliver Final "State of the World" Address To United Nations," Sept. 25, 2012

Searches of Google, VoteSmart, and the White House, Oct. 24, 2013

Email Interview with Caitlin Hayden, White House press office, Oct. 25, 2013

No speech in first year

It's been a month since our last update on President Obama's campaign promise to deliver an annual "State of the World" address, a speech in which he would seek to outline the guiding principles of U.S. foreign policy.

At the time, we found that though President Obama has made several foreign policy speeches, none of these were ever advertised by the White House as a "State of the World" address. Our extensive searches through Google, VoteSmart, and White House archives found no such speech. We rated the promise Stalled, since President Obama still had a month left before he hit the one-year mark since taking office.

Now, at the one-year mark since Obama was sworn in, we again checked the White House Web site, Google, and the VoteSmart database, and found he still hasn't given the speech and there are no plans to give it. In fact, the only foreign policy-related speeches that President Obama has made since December 2009 were his remarks on recovery efforts after the earthquake in Haiti.

He's had a year but hasn't given the speech. So we rate this one a Promise Broken.

Sources:

Searches of Google, VoteSmart, and the White House, January 19, 2010.

No speech yet

During the campaign, Barack Obama promised to deliver an annual "State of the World" address. The speech appears conceptually similar to the annual State of the Union address, during which the president reports on the condition of the nation and outlines his legislative priorities.

Since taking office, President Obama has given many speeches on a wide variety of subjects, including foreign policy. Among the most significant of these are the Dec. 1, 2009, remarks at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan; the June 4, 2009, speech in Cairo, Egypt, on the relationship between United States and the Muslim world; and the Dec. 10, 2009, speech that President Obama delivered in Oslo, Norway, while accepting his Nobel Peace Prize.

But none of those speeches was billed as his "state of the world" speech. A search of the White House Web site and an archive of Obama's speeches on VoteSmart.org found no speeches by the name.

Obama still has one month left to keep this promise, but we see no signs of action. So we're going to rate it Stalled.

Sources:

The Huffington Post, President Obama's Cairo Speech: Full Text , June 4, 2009.

The White House, Press Release: Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan , December 1, 2009.

The White House, Press Release: Remarks by the president at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize , December 10, 2009.

Search of VoteSmart.org and White House Web sites