The speech President Barack Obama delivered in his State of the Union address Tuesday night was aggressive -- but not nearly as aggressive as the message he was sending to Congress between the lines of what he said.
For all the talk about bipartisan cooperation, Obama couldn't have been clearer: He's confident his agenda has popular support, he's not going to compromise too much and he's prepared to spend as much time going around the country pressing his case as it'll take. As for the Republican lawmakers who complain that he's been too rough on them already -- he's just getting started. And Democrats better be on notice, too.
Here's POLITICO's guide to translating what the president said at the podium, and what he really meant:
What he said: As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. Now let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.
What he meant: Love the effort, Chuck and John, but the clock is ticking.
Translation: Obama welcomes the bipartisan talks led by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- to a point.
The White House still regrets giving Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and his small gang of senators so much time in 2009 to produce a health care overhaul bill. The talks dragged on, the public soured on the effort and Obama struggled to get the issue back on track.
Obama didn't invoke a deadline for immigration reform -- again, another lesson learned from the health care reform push -- but lawmakers and advocates expect him to give a bipartisan group of senators only until March to reach a deal. But if they stop making progress, the president has said that he'd put up his own bill and demand that Congress vote on it.
The clearest indicator? They sat side by side in the House chamber, and were joined by another gang member, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to hear the speech.
What he said: After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? Why is it that deficit reduction is a big emergency justifying cuts in Social Security benefits, but not closing some loopholes? How does that promote growth?
What he meant: Boy, those Republicans just don't learn. They keep falling into their own trap.
Translation: Administration officials couldn't believe that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) ruled out raising revenue from wealthier taxpayers -- while floating proposals last week for replacing the $1.2 trillion sequester that would cut benefits for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
To the White House, it fit too easily into the president's long-standing critique of Republicans as protectors of the rich and out of touch with the middle class. Obama, his aides, his Cabinet and his allies on the Hill have gone on the attack, pushing this message at every turn.
The section on the sequester was among the most confrontational of his speech, the latest in his administration's effort to sell the public on his approach of cuts and tax increases.
He challenged Republicans in a pointed tone, saying "we can't ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful."
But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who delivered the official Republican response, had a pithy retort in his speech: "I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors," referring to the retirees in his Florida neighborhood who depend on Social Security and Medicare.
What he said: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence -- they deserve a simple vote.
What he meant: I plan to embarrass Congress into taking this whole gun control effort seriously.
Translation: It's not just Republicans whom Obama needs to convince.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), one of the president's most loyal allies, hasn't appeared eager to throw his full weight behind passing a package of gun control proposals. A solid bloc of moderate Senate Democrats, including some up for reelection in 2014, are skittish, too.
Obama signaled during this passage of his speech that he would shame lawmakers into at least considering legislation, using his bully pulpit to force action.
His recitation of the phrase, "they deserve a vote," brought the chamber to its feet. Even Boehner stood up when Obama invoked Giffords.
And by the way: Obama thinks Congress needs to do more than just vote -- they need to pass it, because if they don't, he'll remind people all over the country what they failed to do every chance he gets.
What he said: In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here's an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.
What he meant: Try to oppose this one, Republicans. Even your 2012 presidential nominee backed it.
Translation: This is classic Obama, sprinkling his legislative initiatives with ideas once supported by Republicans, challenging them to stand in the way and then hammering them if they do.
He's done it on infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy programs. Now add the minimum wage to the mix.
The line was a reference to a remark Romney made at a campaign event last year in New Hampshire. When asked if he supported boosting the minimum wage, he said it should rise with inflation "so that it adjusts automatically over time."
Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said in a CNN interview Tuesday night that he was no fan of the idea.
"I think it is inflationary," he said. "I think it actually is counterproductive in many ways. You end up costing jobs from people who are at the bottom rung of the economic ladder."
What he said: And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I've seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.
What he meant: Republicans give me flak for proposing stimulus programs, but they all show up to take the credit. Talk about hypocritical.
Translation: Obama made this remark as he renewed his push for more government spending on infrastructure projects, modernizing public schools and building high-speed rail and Internet.
But it was rooted in his experience with the 2009 stimulus law, which didn't garner a single Republican vote but didn't stop some Republicans from pursuing the funds for their districts.
The joke elicited only a few laughs in the chamber -- and a lot of pursed lips.
What he said: And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace. These are the messages I will deliver when I travel to the Middle East next month.
What he meant: The prospects for peace look as bleak as they have in decades, but I gotta say something to keep people believing that it's a possibility.
Translation: Obama was managing expectations ahead of his first trip to Israel as president.
The global audience for his speech Tuesday was eager for signs that he might dive back into the Middle East peace process. But the president has acknowledged before that one of the major problems with his administration's first big effort was high-profile moves that raised hopes too high.
Yet, if he didn't mention his desire to achieve "a lasting peace," it would have left the impression that he's not determined to be personally involved in the issue and that he won't treat it as a priority.
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