1. In CNN, Eric Bradner talks about Obama’s plea to voters after his term.
"We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion," Obama said in a not-very-veiled reference to Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
"This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of understanding what makes us strong," Obama said. "The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith."
2. On CBS News, Stephanie Condon writes about Obama’s warning on partisan politics.
"The future we want, all of us want -- opportunity and security for our families, a rising standard of living, and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids - all that is within our reach,"
Mr. Obama said before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. "But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen if we fix our politics." The warning came with the stark acknowledgement that he failed to deliver on one of the core tenets of his 2008 presidential campaign: to be "a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington."
3. In the Des Moines Register, the Editorial Board points out that Congress must address Obama’s secrecy.
As its name implies, the Freedom of Information Act is a law that’s intended to provide citizens with access to information and documents pertaining to all aspects of their federal government: law enforcement, education, defense, human services, the regulation of business, etc.
But under the Obama administration, the law has been turned on its head and used to construct barriers to access. The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy says the number of FOIA requests to all federal agencies that don’t even generate a response grew 55 percent from 2013 to 2014. At the same time, reversals on FOIA appeals reached their highest level in five years.
4. In The Daily Beast, Tim Mak discusses Obama’s statement that speech is not about Trump.
The president pledged to continue this work, to bridge the gap between the divided partisan tribes. But as he delivered his final State of the Union address, it was clear that he had been stymied, and that he had failed.
Near the start of the speech, a Democratic congressman tried to rally his fellow members to shout, ‘fired up, ready to go!’ -- a slogan from the president’s first presidential campaign. But it died out quickly, a sign of the times.
5. In New York Times, the Editorial Board talks about Obama’s call for a better America.
The speech was, of course, a summary of his accomplishments, but more important, a reminder that the optimism that made him the first African-American president and then the resilience that helped the nation weather economic and global crises over the past seven years are what position it best for the future.
“Our unique strengths as a nation — our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery, our diversity, our commitment to the rule of law — these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come,” he said.