President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night, and according to Politico, it won't be gentle. It will be aggressive, "less a presidential olive branch than a congressional cattle prod." That should hearten progressives emboldened by the president's victory in November. He'll also challenge the GOP—a party he sees as vulnerable and divided. And as if to make his point, there will be two responses to his speech: The traditional Republican response delivered by Sen. Marco Rubio, and the Tea Party response given by Sen. Rand Paul. Sen. Paul says there's no division in the party, but optically, the Republicans are reinforcing the idea that they are struggling through a tug-of-war for their heart and soul.
MORNING NEWSFLASH: Pope Benedict XVI has announced he will retire on Feb. 28, citing health reasons. He'll be the first pope in six centuries to retire.
Another alarming trend for Republicans: Young people who came of age long after the presidency of Ronald Reagan see government as a constructive force, and aren't afraid of its size.
And The New Republic has a terrific article about how the Republican party has become the party of white people, and is destined to stay that way.
Republicans are threatening a walk-out during the committee vote for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Sen. Lindsey Graham is threatening a hold on Hagel and other nominees. And Dick Cheney, who hasn't been able to say anything nice about President Obama in more than four years, is back at it. He's criticizing the president's national security nominees.
The New York Times has a look inside Gabrielle Giffords' inspiring third act as an advocate for sensible gun safety measures.