By MARK PENN
Published January 27, 2010

It’s the Super Bowl of politics – the SOTU is watched in some years by up to 60 million people, and it’s usually the President’s best opportunity to address the country, tell them his plan, and bolster his approval.

What could have been a rather sleepy affair has taken on new significance with the loss of the Massachusetts Senate race – it has added dramatic tension and probably 10 million more viewers. How will the president handle the Mass. defeat? What will he say about healthcare? Is he moving to the center?

President Bush generally got little out of his State of the Union addresses. President Clinton did best in 1996 and 1998 — one against the backdrop of the Gingrich government shutdown and the other at the start of the Monica Lewinsky revelations. Clinton successfully pushed back on his critics and reassured the nation in those two pivotal speeches.

President Obama now has to do the same.

But perhaps the biggest questions around President Obama are exactly which course is he taking on so many critical issues – I think the choices he makes will determine the success of the speech and perhaps even of his presidency. So let’s go through his choices.

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