Hope vs. Anger: How Obama's SOTU Set the Tone for 2012

"Hope and Change: Redux" has officially begun.

In any incumbent election year, the State of the Union sets the tone for the impending battle. So on Tuesday night, President Obama devoted a big chunk of his speech to the "defining issue of our time": keeping the middle-class dream alive. (Last year's squabbles over social issues like DADT, DOMA, abortion, and birth control went unmentioned.)

He pulled on our heartstrings as he painted a picture of 1950s prosperity, then reminded us—as if he needed to—that this promise is in peril. Obama reiterated his position on taxing the rich, invoking the "Buffett rule" that states millionaires should pay at least 30 percent in taxes each year. "You can call it class warfare all you want," he said in a particularly feisty moment. "Most Americans would call that common sense."

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