The most striking part of the speech was its sheer – dare I say – audacity. Make no mistake – this speech was an unapologetic, undefensive, and full-bodied embrace of progressive policies. Obama walked up there tonight in front of the entire country and endorsed the most liberal legislative agenda since LBJ. I loved it.
In front of everyone, he stated that he would pursue major legislative efforts on energy, national health care, and education. Then he said he would raise taxes on rich people. Then he said he would cut spending on bloated defense and agribusiness subsidies. Then he reaffirmed that we would withdraw combat troops from Iraq. Then he reminded the country that he is closing Gitmo – and explained the national security rationale for doing so.
Say what you will about this speech, but there was nothing meek or defensive about it. It was a big speech about big things in historic times.
And it’s hard to translate into words how refreshing – how deeply satisfying – it was to see a President stand up and openly embrace such a progressive platform. Having watched the defensiveness of Clinton, Daschle, and John Kerry over the years, it’s just cathartic to see it on a national stage.
If it sounds like Jindal is targeting his speech to a room full of fourth graders, that's because he is. They might be the next people to actually vote for Republicans again.
Obama was fantastic - worlds better than his inaugural. He laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda of any Democratic President since LBJ, and did it so smoothly that you'd think he was just selling an incremental center-left pragmatism. I think that he has an acute sense - more acute than most people in Washington, probably - of just how much running room is open in front of him at the moment, and he intends to make the absolute most of it.
Awesome comment at Daniel Larison's:
Obama’s effort wasn’t great oratory. Certainly no shades of Lincoln or Churchill but that wasn’t the role he was playing last night. He was the family lawyer explaining to the feckless family members (think of the WSJ Bancrofts) that because of their overspending, incompetent management and investment choices the family firm was on the rocks. He’d got a plan to get it off, it was going to cost a lot, it was going to involve some leaps of faith with new products, he’d hired new managers, it wasn’t going to be easy but he thought it had a good chance of success. And the family bought it both because of the superb poise and confidence he brought to explaining it but also because on the whole it sounded adult and grounded in reality. The subsequent carping by a rather geeky family nephew was dismissed as essentially silly and juvenile. I’ve been saying here for months as has Daniel that the GOP has no idea what they are dealing with in Obama and shows no signs of wanting to learn. Their only policy seems to placing a bet against the American people which I think they are going to lose.