I think it's a solid speech: pragmatic advocacy mixed with appeals to American ideals of an earthy sort; not city-on-a-hill stuff, but help-your-grandmother-across-the-street ideals. He can do this every day, and he can do it intelligently and, at times, even beautifully. To what avail, though, if he doesn't follow through and produce some real and measurable achievements?
Tax incentives, small-business veneration, glorification of the entrepreneur, chest-thumping on competition, and even a bit of nationalism. Obama articulates Republican policies better than Republicans do. Doesn't look sour and mean, or like he wants to bite somebody.
What Obama didn't do -- ask to "pass the Senate bill." But not sure this was moment for that.
This was Obama at his best. He wasn't cuddly, but who cares? He was smart and he was funny--and he was drop-dead serious about the country. The speech should do him some good, but it's not enough. Now he has to preside, in the true sense of the term.
I'm a little surprised by the gays in the military vow. You know Rahm still has nightmares about Clinton's experience. The generals were notably stone-faced.
Most remarkable: Secretary of Defense Bob Gates applauded Obama's words [on DADT]. And Americans saw him applauding, thanks to the director's cut-aways. Which means that, for the most part, the military is on notice: the policy is ending, and ending very soon. Said Obama: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. Because it's the right thing to do." One note: the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chiefs didn't applauded. But that's the protocol. They don't applaud by tradition.
Obama is making a lot of arguments tonight that the WH should have been making for months now.
[The speech] won’t make much of a difference either way—and it wouldn’t have even if it had been a much better or a much worse speech. But it’s interesting as an indication of where the administration’s thinking is at the moment. It really didn’t suggest the sharp pivot everyone has thought was coming: he was very defensive of everything he has done all year. But it also didn’t suggest a renewed determination to pursue his agenda: the speech was very vague and not very energetic. The Massachusetts election has certainly left the Democrats disoriented, and it showed tonight.
[T]he most interesting part of the speech is where he threatens to veto any financial bill that doesn't really take on the banks. The proposals he unveiled last week to limit the size of bank liabilities, and dismantle their proprietary trading desks, were greeted with acclaim by many financial journalists, but it is widely believed that legislators like Senator Dodd will simply kill them in committee. If he's willing to risk ending up with nothing, that may be smart politics--and perhaps smart regulation. But that's a very daring move for a president who has so far proved extremely reluctant to take on his congress.
This is a much looser SOTU than I got used to under George Bush--much more house of commons--applause is shorter, but more frequent, jeers are obvious, Mr Obama is anticipating it and working off Republican hostility like a stage comic with hecklers.
This is a brilliant speech. Realistically won't do any good unless senate centrists grow consciences, unemployment falls.
I have watched many, many State of the Union speeches. This is the most partisan, least presidential of them all. His rhetoric, his glances at the GOP side, and his almost mocking tone at times — not to mention his over-the-top dissembling about the deficit, among other things — will not, I predict, improve his position with the public. Nor should it.
This health-care section is good. Obama is smart to admit that people are skeptical and to blame it on process and bad communication.
Listening to this litany, I'm reminded how Republicans are on the wrong side -- just politically, let alone on policy -- of most signature issues in a populist economic moment. I think there were zero Republicans standing up on any part of Obama's financial reform agenda -- something that polls exceedingly well in addition to being good public policy.
That's it for healthcare. Seemed a little bloodless to me. Didn't really explain his plan very well, and never stood up for anything more specific than "Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people." I was hoping for more, but maybe I expect too much.
David Brooks makes the point that much of the policy mentioned here—tax cuts, pay-as-you-go, nuclear power, offshore drilling—was far more moderate than his administration has been thus far. So was it a pivot? Almost certainly not. He was claiming that the mantle of moderation had characterized his administration thus far. And it’s hard to believe that he’s going to mention nuclear power or offshore drilling ever again, or pay-as-you-go. Tax cuts you’ll hear.
Tonight’s speech — with its mix of his charm and good humor, his calls for transcending partisanship and bickering, his appeal to lawmakers’ better nature — seemed designed to restore that transcendent glow he enjoyed so long ago. To pull him out of the D.C. muck and get people to see him as being on their side again. We’ll see if it works.