This first Obama State of the Union message in front of a divided Congress will be extraordinary theater as the president seeks to sound like the uniter people voted for in 2008, rather than the partisan leftist whose policies have driven our nation to the brink of insolvency.

Obama has seen a minor resurgence in the polls by virtue of his carefully burked Tucson speech calling for civility. Of course, this call was after four days of vitriolic attacks from his colleagues on the left, blaming conservatives from Sarah Palin to Rush Limbaugh for the actions of a Marxist anarchist who did not vote in the 2010 elections. 

So the president will clearly renew his civility call, ironic in the wake of his failure to denounce a member of his own party in Congress who called House Republicans Nazis during the debate to repeal ObamaCare. So, while the words will be mouthed, the president’s own silence in the face of true hate speech belies the real underlying message — hate speech is anything that disagrees with his policies, and should not be tolerated.

The pre-releases on the speech by Obama officials promise a speech about fiscal responsibility, while urging increased “investment” in big-ticket items like education.

This standard Democratic tactic of mouthing the words of fiscal restraint while using the feel-good education mantra to justify business as usual demonstrates to everyone who is watching closely that a president who has flung $2 trillion in short-term “investment” spending in the past two years at the economic wall has no intent of changing course, but instead wants to set the battlefield over the fight over the budget.

Ultimately, Obama’s intent is to sound like Ronald Reagan, even though his actions are more like Karl Marx, and tonight is the merely the opening scene of the opening act of the 2012 battle for the presidency. It will be interesting to see if anyone outside of Washington is watching.