President Obama's State of the Union address Wednesday struck an
unusual tone for the highly ceremonial speech. Obama appeared relaxed
and made a number of jokes, at times coyly admonishing Congressmen of
both parties. Why did the president take a more laid-back approach? And did it work?
- Was He Really Joking? Hotline's Erin McPike found an unusual response among Congressional Democrats to Obama's concern about Democratic failures, such as passing health care. "Some Dems took many of Obama's comments about either missteps or setbacks as comments in jest and laughed at them."
- Sounded Like U.K. Parliament Address The Economist's Democracy in America thought he was back in London. "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."
- Not Weighed Down by Office Says Mother Jones's Kevin Drum. "Obama was dead serious most of the time, but he also seemed loose and engaging, at times even sparring good-naturedly with the Republican side of the aisle. My guess is that this is a combination that works pretty well. At the very least, he didn't seem freighted down with the burdens of office, and that's an accomplishment all on its own given the events of the past couple of weeks."
- Chastised Congress On Our Behalf The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson didn't like Obama's ideas, "Tonally, however, it was a masterpiece." By admonishing the entire rest of the federal government, "He became the tribune of our collective exasperation." His speech lumped some Democrats as well as Republicans into "the whole spineless bunch"
- 'Populism With a Smile' So evaluates The Atlantic's Joshua Green. "It didn't seem frightened, or craven, or defensive, or weak," he writes. "Obama articulates Republican policies better than Republicans do. Doesn't look sour and mean, or like he wants to bite somebody.
- 'Dull, Cheap, Successful' The New Republic's Jonathan Chait thought Obama took the easy route by being so casual. "I wondered if his budget freeze had already claimed the entire White House speechwriting staff."