Obama Speech To Congress: REACTION

Obama Speech To Congress: REACTION

Pundits have begun to react to President Barack Obama's speech before both houses of Congress. Below is a roundup of some of the reactions in no particular order.

Andrew Sullivan: A Tour De Force

It was perfectly pitched: a form a liberal patriotism that eschews the kind of politics the American people are sick of. A tour de force.

But look: the politics and rhetoric are superb, but all that matters is whether he can pull this off. The results are all that matter now. He has this moment; it could make him and the rest of us. It could destroy him or us. It's our job in this crisis to support him and to criticize him constructively. We need to rise to the occasion he is rising to. And maybe most of us will.

The Economist: Vintage Obama

powerfully delivered, after a slightly hesitant start, and carefully constructed. Clever because he pulled back from his previous warnings of catastrophe, but without downplaying the seriousness of the situation. Clever because he presented the Democratic agenda (particularly greenery and educational spending) as the stimulus that the economy needs. And clever because he threw a few bones to the non-liberals listening in the form of promises about charter schools. He even mentioned "entrepreneurs" no fewer than three times, on my count. It would have been nice to have heard how he plans to halve the deficit while boosting spending. It would also have been nice to have a commitment to helping those precious entrepreneurs by cutting onerous regulations (another job for Joe Biden?)

David Brooks: This "Was An Excellent Speech"

I thought it was an excellent speech. It's been a long time since I've really been able to rave over an Obama speech, but I thought this was a speech that perfectly captured the tenor of the country. [PBS, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Coverage of Presidential Address, 2/24/09]

Marc Ambinder: The Obama Synthesis

The key phrase of the speech was, to me, two words: "long-term investments." The spine of the speech holds up this premise -- the examples of Americans who've sacrificed, the history lesson, the implicit criticism of an elections-based worldview, the lensed look at the recent party-hardy past. From Obama's perspective, the failures of the past -- or the collective failures that mushroomed into today's clouds -- require a plunge into activist government.

Eighty percent of speech watchers approve of President Obama's plans for dealing with the economic crisis. Before the speech, 63 percent approved.

Fifty-one percent of speech watchers think the president's economic plans will help them personally. Thirty-six thought so before the speech.

Seventy-five percent of speech watchers now say they were able to get a good understanding of President Obama's economic plans, compared to 58 percent before the speech.

Will Wilkinson: Dangerous

Oratorywise, so good. Ideawise, so weak. Combination, so dangerous.

David Gergen: President's Speech Was "Most Ambitious... We've Heard In This Chamber In Decades."

This was the most ambitious president we've heard in this chamber in decades. The first half of the speech was FDR fighting for the New Deal. The second half was Lyndon Johnson fighting for the Great Society and we have never seen those two presidents rolled together in quite this way before. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 2/24/09]

Was juvenile and condescending to Biden. Speaks poorly of Biden that Obama thought it was necessary.

Did I get my sections mixed up or did most of the GOP legislators hop to their feet when Obama said "We do not torture"? That's a major policy switch.

Chuck Todd: Speech Hopeful, Uplifting.

I think this idea that somehow [President Obama] had not been talking hopeful enough about the situation, I have a feeling that President Clinton isn't going to be criticizing him, particularly for that last I'd say ten minutes of the speech where it was all hopeful. It was all uplifting. It was as somebody had said to me, the last part of this speech, you're going to recognize it, is Obama-esque, and I think that it's not hard to look at that last part of the speech and saying he wasn't being hopeful and talking up about the economy. [NBC, Nightly News with Brian Williams, 2/24/09]

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