Obama’s State of the Union

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The Washington Post does a nice job comparing this year’s State of the Union to President Obama’s previous annual speeches: 

President Obama devoted nearly half of his fourth annual address to Congress to the economy. A breakdown of the State of the Union and a look back at his previous three speeches.

Visualize Congressional Words

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The Sunlight Foundation this week released a new-and-improved service that allows users to compare words uttered by members of the U.S. Congress: 

For every day Congress is in session, Capitol Words visualizes the most frequently used words in the Congressional Record, giving you an at-a-glance view of which issues lawmakers address on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Capitol Words lets you see what are the most popular words spoken by lawmakers on the House and Senate floor.

This graph, for example, shows how the frequency of “taxes” and “spending” has changed over time: 

Here’s “war” vs. “peace”: 

Give it a whirl, and send me what you find. 

Analyzing Two Rick Perry Speeches: 1998 vs. 2011

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I stumbled upon Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement speech from his 1998 race for lieutenant governor, arguably my former state’s most powerful political job. Back then, his candidacy centered on “safe streets, effective schools, and economic opportunity.”

Here are the top 50 most used words in the speech (made in Aggie Maroon for Perry’s alma mater). Texas, obviously, is used often, and so are effective, opportunity, future: 

This next example below visualizes Perry’s announcement last month that he was entering the presidential race. The national economy is among the top issues in the race, so it’s no surprise that America/Americans and jobs are used often: 

Both speeches are relatively heavy on the word “government,” but with a somewhat different emphasis. In 1998, Perry believe that “government” can and should be “effective” and “efficient,” according to this word tree, a Many Eyes tool that puts specific words in context by connecting them with nearby sentence strings. He also talked about regulations that “interfere” with “consumers and producers.”

Last month, Perry said “government” has “prolonged our national misery” and is “spreading the wealth,” according to the text of his presidential announcement. He said government had an “insatiable desire to spend our children’s inheritances.”

Of course, 12 years have passed. 

Lastly, one thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that Perry tends to use the word “get” frequently in his speeches. I’m not sure why. Here’s the presidential announcement speech. Notice that “get America working,” part of his campaign slogan, is used several times: