Obama’s Stump Speech To The Nation


Most bloggers saw Obama's SOTU speech as a campaign speech. Jonathan Chait cheers the president on:

It was the speech of a man who realizes that he has only one thing left to do, and that is to win reelection. The Obama of 2009-2010 was a pure pragmatic wonk, and his inattention to politics hurt his standing. Through sheer bloody obstruction, Republicans forced him to the only available alternative, which was to use his office solely as a political platform. His agenda is dead, but his public standing has benefited. Perhaps one day Republicans will wish they had been a little more flexible, and had kept the old, wonky, bargaining Obama rather than the slashing populist who’s cutting their throats.

Ross Douthat believes that the "address made plain" that "President Obama has decided to run for re-election as a full-throated liberal populist":

There were rhetorical nods to deficit reduction, sensible regulatory reform and the Lincolnian idea that “government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.” But the substance of the speech could be summed up in one word: More. More spending on education. More spending on infrastructure. More money for green energy projects. More assistance for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. More tax breaks for manufacturers – for high-tech manufacturers, for manufacturers who relocate to poor areas, for manufacturers who retrain workers, for manufacturers who don’t outsource jobs, for manufacturers who upgrade their buildings … O.K., I lost count. And all of it to be paid for, inevitably, by more taxes on the wealthy.

Mark Kleiman ate it up:

What can the Red Team say in response, except “Ouch!”? American isn’t great? Osama isn’t dead? Vulture capitalists ought to pay lower tax rates than workers?

David Frum differs:

In the absence of recovery, the president is offering social reform: a more redistributive tax system to finance more government benefits. That's the first argument. The second argument was an argument that Congress' failure to deliver on prior reform proposals reflected institutional failure in need of correction. These two arguments—higher taxes for more benefits; reform of Congress to expedite social reform—are the president's big offers to the country for November.

Stan Collender wishes the president had proposed shared sacrifice:

[T]he SOTU turned out to be even more of a campaign speech than I had expected (If you have any doubt about that just listen with your eyes closed to the over-the-top soaring rhetoric at the end and ask yourself if it doesn't sound like the president was accepting his party's nomination.) and campaign speeches don't promise to impose pain (Ask Walter Mondale). That meant that the budget, deficit, and national debt were out and proposals that make you feel good about the future were in.

Brian Beutler understood the speech as a "point by point Romney refutation":

It read in a way as a series of critiques of the GOP’s most prominent rhetorical attacks on Democratic priorities, and as a piecemeal rebuttal of the talking points his most likely general election opponent Mitt Romney has levied against him in a bid to shore up support among Republican base voters.

And Kevin Drum was underwhelmed:

I'm a Democrat and a fan of the president, but even I found this speech formulaic, devoid of interesting ideas, and built almost solely for applause lines. Presumably this means that it's going to poll through the roof. Joe and Jane Sixpack will love it. And with that, Campaign 2012 has officially gotten underway.

(Photo: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) listens as President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. By Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)