Grading Obama's big speech

What President Obama accomplished in his first address to a joint session of Congress

President Obama "rose to the occasion" in his first speech to a joint session of Congress, said The New York Times in an editorial. Barack Obama the president needed to show the assertiveness, clarity, and audacity of Barack Obama the candidate on Tuesday, and he did so (click here for video of the speech)—promising that America will emerge stronger from the "multitudinous disasters bequeathed to him by George W. Bush."

Obama did make his game plan clearer, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. But that only makes the future scarier. Obama clearly "believes the recession has created a political moment when Americans are frightened enough to be open to a new era of expanded government. The question is whether his vast ambitions will allow the private economy to grow enough even to begin to pay for it all."

"We understand the president's instinct" not to let the multiple crises the country faces kill his big long-term plans, said The Washington Post in an editorial. But, facing an economic crisis, a banking crisis, a housing crisis, and an auto crisis, Obama just piled his plate higher, promising to overhaul the health-care system, bolster education, slash the deficit, and more. Maybe he should just focus on "a swift and effective response to the stomach-churning downturn."

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That would never be enough to satisfy Obama's ambition, said Rich Lowry in the New York Post. "It's not just that he wants to revive the economy and save the banking system, while reforming energy, health care, and education. He seeks to redefine the center of American politics forevermore."

No matter what you think of Obama's goals, said Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times, it's hard to deny that the power of his oratory worked for him again. His most important goal was lifting the nation's mood, and he accomplished that when he said, "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."

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