Here is Rachel Maddow, who seems recently to have become much more appreciative of the President, explaining the difference between the tactics of Clinton and Obama in dealing with a resurgent Republican movement. As the right has moved further and further to the right over the years, Clinton responded by co-opting Republican positions on issues like crime and welfare and balanced budgets and limited government, which made Democrats sound more like Republicans, and which encouraged the Republicans to keep moving away from him, in order to differentiate themselves, and therefore caused the center to move further to the right.
Obama, by contrast, is trying to move the center to the left, or at least keep it where it is, so that the country's political spectrum will not continue to drift further to the right, and might even return to a more Eisenhower-era normalcy. That will give his administration room to institute more liberal reforms. To do that, he used the State of the Union address to drive home the point that we need government to re-build our infrastructure and improve education, so as to keep the country more competitive, a theme that almost everyone can agree with. He also does this with his "togetherness" theme, which tries to encourage Republicans to move toward the Democrats instead of away from them. Does this theory make sense to anyone? It does to me.