Final SOTU, the long goodbye begins. The President's wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica. Read my Behind The Lens account of this photograph: bit.ly/1NMjCjHtk ." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Final SOTU, the long goodbye begins.

The President’s wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As President Obama prepares to give his last State of the Union address, the country is split on his job performance: 46 percent of Americans approve, while 47 percent disapprove. [CBS/NYT poll]

SAYING GOODBYE, it begins tonight for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. His final State of the Union address will not be about what needs to be done but what has been accomplished and the dire necessity to make the progress that has been made permanent.

For Republicans, it’s a reminder of just how badly they’ve failed to make their party a national power in the era of Barack Obama. Instead, conservatives and their allies have done everything possible to de-legitimize Barack Obama. Senator Mitch McConnell saying before the 2012 election that there was no job more important than defeating the President.

Imagining Donald Trump replacing Barack Obama takes imagination for Democrats, for some Republicans too.

“The message that Donald Trump’s putting out has had adherence a lot of times during the course of our history. You know, talk to me if he wins. Then we’ll have a conversation about how responsible I feel about it,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview less than a week after making an emotional speech on gun control efforts. [Today]

Once we see whether Trump’s voters caucus in Iowa we’ll know more about his trajectory. New Hampshire seems well within his reach, with South Carolina the chaser.

For Democrats, Obama’s final SOTU reveals rifts between his priorities of legacy, and what progressives believe is the right course. From The Hill

…a group of House Democrats on Monday held a press conference introducing the State of the Union not with a show of solidarity with their White House ally but by condemning the TPP, a mammoth trade deal among 12 Pacific Rim countries that would encompass as much as 40 percent of the world’s economy. …

[…] The rift over Obama’s immigration policy is even more stark.

The administration infuriated liberals this month by rounding up more than 120 people in the country illegally who had been denied asylum and now face deportation, primarily to Central America. Many of those arrested are women and children who arrived as part of the 2014 migrant surge at the Texas-Mexico border. …

A third issue likely to gain attention in Tuesday’s speech involves Obama’s controversial Middle East policy. Lawmakers in both parties are fuming that the administration has not installed tougher sanctions on Iran following a pair of ballistic missile tests conducted by the country late last year in defiance of United Nations guidelines.

America will meet Governor Nikki Haley tonight, who will give the GOP response. With vice presidential whispers, it’s a big moment for Haley, coming after a successful event over last weekend, named for conservative hawk Jack Kemp.

And then we’ll have Speaker Paul Ryan sitting behind President Obama, next to Vice President Joe Biden. Few in American know Ryan.

The last SOTU by President Obama is about him. The SOTU matters, but I’m just not sure anyone cares at this point. Whatever Obama was in 2008, the mood of the country is somewhere else today.

Partisans will argue forever who’s to “blame” for what ails them.

American voters just want it to change. They want Washington to get things done for them. And they’re less sure than ever that either party has the answer.

In 2015, for the fifth consecutive year, at least four in 10 U.S. adults identified as political independents. The 42% identifying as independents in 2015 was down slightly from the record 43% in 2014. This elevated percentage of political independents leaves Democratic (29%) and Republican (26%) identification at or near recent low points, with the modest Democratic advantage roughly where it has been over the past five years. [Gallup]

"For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can't, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge." (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

"Visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed, the President signed a patient's military banner at his request." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed, the President signed a patient’s military banner at his request.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

"Beekeeper Charlie Brandts works with the beehive on the South Grounds of the White House." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Beekeeper Charlie Brandts works with the beehive on the South Grounds of the White House.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

"The First Lady demonstrates her boxing skills during a #GimmeFive video taping." (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

“The First Lady demonstrates her boxing skills during a #GimmeFive video taping.” (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

"I was moving around trying to capture different scenes away from the stage during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches. When I glanced back towards the stage, I noticed the President and First Lady holding hands as they listened to the remarks of Rep. John Lewis. I managed to squeeze off a couple of frames before they began to applaud, and the moment was gone." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“I was moving around trying to capture different scenes away from the stage during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches. When I glanced back towards the stage, I noticed the President and First Lady holding hands as they listened to the remarks of Rep. John Lewis. I managed to squeeze off a couple of frames before they began to applaud, and the moment was gone.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The last SOTU, the Long Goodbye Begins  "The First Lady snuggled against the President during a video taping for the 2015 World Expo in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House." (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

The last SOTU, the Long Goodbye Begins

“The First Lady snuggled against the President during a video taping for the 2015 World Expo in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.” (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Feb. 23, 2015 "The President's daughter Malia stopped by the Oval Office one afternoon to see her dad and, while they were talking, she wiped something from his face." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) width=

Feb. 23, 2015
“The President’s daughter Malia stopped by the Oval Office one afternoon to see her dad and, while they were talking, she wiped something from his face.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

"The President hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The President hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

"The President was in the midst of his daily intelligence briefing. An aide popped his head in the door to inform him that the Supreme Court had affirmed the Affordable Care Act subsidies ruling, and with a telephoto lens, I made this sequence of his initial reaction." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The President was in the midst of his daily intelligence briefing. An aide popped his head in the door to inform him that the Supreme Court had affirmed the Affordable Care Act subsidies ruling, and with a telephoto lens, I made this sequence of his initial reaction.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)