Right, left respond to Obama's speech
Some observers said President Obama hit it out of the park; others found he struck out. Some saw it as an intentional walk.
January 26th, 2011
08:29 AM ET

Right, left respond to Obama's speech

Here is a selection of reactions to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech to Congress on Tuesday night in Washington:

Alex Altman, Time.com:

It was light on applause lines and suffused with a grim subtext: our competitors are gaining on us. Obama's task was to acknowledge the status anxiety sweeping across the U.S., identify the problems causing it, and map out a plan to solidify America's place in the world. ... The theme of the address was the way to "win the future," a slogan that sounds cooked up in a corporate boardroom. It may have been a nod to our hunger for digestible sound bites or a recognition that plenty of Obama's opponents remain unconvinced that he believes in American exceptionalism. But it was also a clear message that "the rules have changed," as Obama said. To the president, American exceptionalism is no longer a matter of Manifest Destiny, but a status secured with hard work, smart choices and grit.

Mark Halperin, Time.com:

The mingled seating of Democratic and Republican members of Congress, a symbolic show of a renewed commitment to bipartisanship, eliminated the tribal practice of one party sitting on its hands while the other stands and applauds, and it was an immense benefit to the president. The viewing television public saw a stream of cut-aways framing prominent Democrats and Republicans, side-by-side, clapping for the same words. The speech itself transcended party lines as well, including nearly 90%  that could have been penned by a GOP leader - or by Bill Clinton, at his center-grabbing best. For the tens of millions of Americans who want Beltway residents to get along and get things done, it was the apex of bipartisan promise since the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney.com:

Last summer President Obama promised to call the bluff of anyone who talks a good game on reducing the national debt but doesn't act. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he offered a few ideas, but didn't spell out a comprehensive plan. ... "(N)ow that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in," Obama said. "That is not sustainable." But until his 2012 budget proposal is released next month, and until negotiations over spending cuts begin, it won't be clear whether the president is really putting his arms around deficit reduction or merely air-kissing the idea.

Mark Penn, The Huffington Post:

(I)f President Obama hopes to "win the future" in 2012, his speech came up short Tuesday night. It was certainly a big and earnest move to the center, but it lacked the kind of specifics and innovative policies that the president needs to make America competitive in the 21st century. ... This speech will poll well - it has a lot of popular material and was very optimistic about America. But the failure to tackle the big problems and issues with specific creative ideas means the president and the White House have a lot of work to do. While these speeches are usually an end point to a furious policy making and agenda-setting effort inside the White House, this speech really marks a new beginning for Obama and his turn to the center. But making that turn real will require backing the rhetoric up with the changes and ideas that really put America back to work, bring our families together and keep us as the most innovative country on earth. He has had a great two months and now the chance to turn it into a great two years.

Erick Erickson, RedState.com:

Not exactly a John F. Kennedy oratory moment. But wait, it gets even better as Barack Obama announces his intention to return us to the 1950s. As much as the Democrats caricature the Republicans as hell bent on driving us back to 1950s-style culture, Barack Obama is hell bent on driving us back to 1950s-style economics where people work for large corporations that subsist on government program subsidies and the employees all belong to unions. ... Barack Obama's speech was a terrible speech. The only saving grace for him is that it will not be remembered by the American public. Paul Ryan had much more substance and, surprisingly enough, Michele Bachmann had the best speech of the night with both style and substance.

The Washington Times:

President Obama's announcement on Tuesday that "this is our generation's Sputnik moment" came across as puzzling. Had al Qaeda sent a suicide bomber into space? But it turned out to be just a clumsy metaphor. The first Sputnik launch in October 1957 is a now distant event that no longer arouses passion. ... The sense of national purpose that followed the Sputnik launch was not based on an abstract sense of the need for better education programs; it was a national security emergency. In those days lagging behind in the technology race could literally be fatal. Mr. Obama has failed to conjure the same sense of looming disaster, excepting the national state of alarm over his irresponsible deficit spending.

Ross Douthat, The New York Times:

From Barack Obama, we heard a reasonably eloquent case for center-left technocracy and industrial policy, punctuated by a few bipartisan flourishes, in which the entitlement issue felt like an afterthought: He took note of the problem, thanked his own fiscal commission for their work without endorsing any of their recommendations, made general, detail-free pledges to keep Medicare and Social Security solvent (but "without slashing benefits for future generations"), and then moved swiftly on to the case for tax reform. Tax reform is important, of course, and so are education and technological innovation and infrastructure and all the other issues that the president touched on in this speech. But it was still striking that in an address organized around the theme of American competitiveness, which ran to almost 7,000 words and lasted for an hour, the president spent almost as much time talking about solar power as he did about the roots of the nation's fiscal crisis.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Democratic Party • Politics • Republican Party • Tea Party
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. RUFFNUTT

    More right-wing bla-bla-bla and nothing's going to change. More bloodshed overseas for nothing and more people out of work while we will go on hearing this bla-bla-bla about America "comimg together". How corny!!!

    January 26, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. TimeCop

    I'm noticing a pattern from all the left and right wing "opinion" journalists. Obama isn't left enough for the far left. Anyone who tries to be centrist is too far left for the far right. It's clear that people on the left want a king who dictates policy from his throne instead of letting congress make the policy proposals. For all the pandering he did to the far left base of his party during his 2008 campaign, Obama has clearly tried to meet people in the middle as a president should. The whiners on either side of the political spectrum need to come down to earth and realize they are outnumbered by free thinking independent voters who just want things to get done for the benefit of everyone. If these opinion journalists are so smart then why don't they run for office and fix things instead of instigating partisan arguments?

    January 26, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Joel2208

      As a free thinking independent voter,I believe that we deserve both a President and Congress who are not controled by the MIC(military-industrial-complex) from whom we need to take back the government and Barack Obama simply isn't giving us that.

      January 26, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • AngryAmericanAdolescent

      Erick Erickson, RedState.com:
      This guy is a moron. The society he described is what we are currently liveing in. Obama was referring to going back to BEFORE the corporations started to take control, and PREVENT it from happening. The point of view he believes Obama follows is that of the extreme right, who want to 'whitewash america'. One bland, corporate nation hellbent on profit over human progress.

      January 26, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Eli

      AngryAmericanAdolescent – you clearly don't realize that " back to BEFORE the corporations started to take control" would be the 1700's. Is that really where you want to go back to? You're also taking an extremist view of "corporations" that isn't grounded in reality (or historical fact). Yes, there are plenty of examples of greed or bad choices made by those running corporations. We should endeavor mightily to keep those things from happing. BUT, that doesn't mean getting rid of all "corporations". Your life would be much, much worse today if some "corporations" had never existed. Just about everything you touch, every material thing you want, the machines and medicines that can save your or a loved one's life comes from a "corporation". They are not all bad, and they are not all run by evil Satan worshipers. And no, they are definitely not all alike!

      January 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    The right and the left. Still no analysis of the center. (those who realize that our political portrait is a painting, not a photograph. With each stroke of the brush, the image of a big fat Elephant with the head of a Donkey becomes clear. As it's ass end runs over it's own front end, the beast falls face first in it's own luxuriant dung. It's breath smells like blood, with a hint of tea.[party]. It runs around the world like a big fat retarded twelve year-old kid armed with a double-barrel shotgun, taking what he pleases...and what pleases those who follow and offer support. When that support get's bored, out comes the brush and the painting, once again, becomes a little Donkey with a big fat Elephant head. And so on and so forth for generations.) We need a new painter, and someone who will sit still long enough so that a clear picture can be made.

    January 26, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. chas v

    last night was the first time I watched more than 10 minutes of CNN since the Dessert Storm. Including the Tea Party response was an attempt to show more than 1 view on the speach. The panel was good too. I hope this is a trend that will continue it will make CNN worth watching again.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. TimeCop

    @Joel: Who do you have in mind? You make a valid assessment, but don't really offer any solutions. I oppose the 2 party monopoly and would like the US to become isolationist in regards to it's use of military bases across the globe. Those who propose such a military ratcheting down don't really offer any other solutions to the many number of problems we face. Most politicians I see are very narrow minded and are incapable of seeing the big picture with all the moving parts.

    January 26, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Joel2208

      All I can say is that isolationism is a very good idea whose time has come. We need to quit sticking our nose into worldly problems which are of no concern to us. Only a complete moron would disagree with my assessment!

      January 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Independent X

    Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had! Ya been took! ... “You've been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”

    January 26, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. ???

    I think his reference to "sputnik" was quite ironic....isn't that when the Russians put a monkey in space????

    January 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stan Willmann

    Personally, I thought our President's speech was excellent! Secondly, just seeing the congress commingled was "hopeful". Everyone expects our President to solve all our problems, but this is not his job under our system of government. Our elected representatives are supposed to solve our problems; however, they go to Washington with very narrow minds and predetermined opinions. The newly installed "Tea Baggers" will "learn the system" very quickly. Their "mandates from the voters" will very soon be replaced with the "mandates of the lobbyists". This is our biggest problem! No elected politician can think and act responsibly with true patriotic convictions. It is all about getting money for the next election.
    Our political system is broken
    Our health care system is broken
    Our educational system is terribly broken
    Our infrastructure is falling apart, rapidly
    Our foreign policies are stupid and serve no citizen of our own country
    Our government is bloated with bureaucrats and regulators who do not perform their duties
    Our financial system serves no one but the wealthy, yet we "save them" from their greed – why?
    Our consumers are forced to purchase goods produced over seas with slave labor, "free trade"!
    Our borders remain open to anyone and everyone, friend or foe no questions asked.
    Our system of paying taxes is completely beyond comprehension with so many loop holes for the favored.
    This is only a partial list! These "problems" cannot be solved by our President! All of these problems can only be resolved by our "elected representatives" who all choose to avoid them. Today, you can easily write to your elected representatives via the internet. Everyone should do this! However, because so few American citizens take the time to do this and take no interest in what your representatives are really doing, nothing happens! We have NO patriots today, all we have are politicians chasing money. Does our future look bright? No, everyone in China has more to look forward to than we do!

    January 26, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JeanClaudeVanDarn

    I write all the time. I'm very respectful and offer constructive solutions. The only one to write back was Michael Bloomberg (twice his office responded). John B o n e r... Nothing. White house... Nothing.. Sander Levin... Nothing. My local reps... Nothing. They don't care.

    January 26, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    @Stan Willman...you make valid points to be sure. But you lost me when you implied that the reason China can produce goods so cheaply is because of "slave labor." That's hogwash. China pays about 27 dollars per barrel for the crude oil purchased from the Carlyle Group, who own the mineral right's of the Caspian sea Basin. We pay over 80/bbl for Opec crude. And China produces 53% of their own oil. This is the real reason China can outperform US. (THE CARLYLE GROUP of businessmen include Bush(s), Cheney, Carlucci, James Baker III, John Major, etc...and 26 members of the binLaden family)

    January 26, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Edward

    Did anyone do the math when the CBO released the 2011 Budget Deficit estimate? The estimate was about 1 trillion dollars which, as I understand it, will be another record deficit. This means we would have have near the lowest budget deficit in the last 10 years if the Republicans had not held out for a 700 billion giveaway to the the ultra rich. Take 700 billion away from the trillion and it leaves 300 billion. This means that President Obama would have saved the country from the worst recession in history and had the lowest budget deficit in ten years. Quite an achievement. Thank you Mister president.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |