President Obama's wide-ranging first State of The Union address featured the hallmarks of speeches he gave as candidate Obama -- pledges to fight for changes he believes in, indictments of politics as usual in Washington and a plea for Americans to remain hopeful.
Even his critics acknowledge the president's oratory skills, but one year into his administration, have the words lost their power? Or did he hit the rhetorical notes needed to rally supportes and the nation? Here's how pundits weighed-in:
- Ron Fournier, Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press, thought Obama “notched every political box” needed to reboot his presidency in the wake of sagging poll numbers and Dems' shocking electoral defeat last week in Massachusetts. “Humility. Check. Bipartisanship, debt reduction, populist anger. Check. Check. Check. More jobs? On it,” Fournier writes.
- The Wall Street Journal's Joseph White wasn't sure the speech ranked among Obama's best. "It was long and it felt long," he wrote. "Long stretches felt like a forced march past obligatory policy way stations." White noted that "polls and the recent elections suggest a lot of Americans have developed a resistance to his oratorical style and are focused instead on doubts about the substance of Mr. Obama's policies. "Did he convince anyone who didn’t agree with him already?" he asks.
- No speech can "demolish the current logjam in Washington" argues Charles Cooper on CBS News' politics blog. Yet he thought Obama “struck the right chords” to connect emotionally with his audience. "For a chief executive who has been dunned as being too remote and too cerebral, this was a reminder of the old Barack Obama," Cooper writes.
- “Of course he was charming and there was impassioned rhetoric once in a while,” HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington told CNN's Larry King. But the Internet mogul slammed Obama for attempting to dish out a “little bit for everyone” instead of staying laser-focused on the middle-class. “The speech felt like it had been focus group tested within an inch of its life,” she said.
- “The question is, are there second looks in American politics today?” asks David Corn, reporting for the left-leaning Mother Jones. He seems doubtful, arguing that Obama didn’t come off like a “fighter” who would declare war on special interests and win. “There was something bloodless in his presentation,” Corn writes.
- Newly crowned Fox News pundit Sarah Palin delivered a one-word verdict: “lecture.” The former GOP presidential nominee panned Obama's speech and praised her party's response. “It seemed like our president has that fundamental disconnect between what people are expecting with their government and what he wants to deliver,” she said.
- The president will be rewarded for “not losing sleep” over what critics on the right and left think of him and for charting a pragmatic course that appeals to moderates, argues Joshua Greenman for the New York Daily News. “Obama proved reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. He delivered a forward-leaning address that was both unapologetic about left-of-center values and unquestionably centrist on policy,” he writes.