The history and characteristic features of the State of the Union address, to be delivered by President Obama on January 25, were reviewed in a recent report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.
“Presidents often acknowledge the difficult nature of the goals they set, but such acknowledgment is qualified by a strong statement that Americans will always fulfill their destiny, solve intractable problems, and ultimately ‘establish a more perfect Union’. “
“No President has ever reported that the crisis facing the nation was insurmountable.”
See “The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications,” November 17, 2010.