But they must have been watching a different speech than I was.
As we wrote in First Read this morning, Obama's objectives tonight were to demonstrate to the public that his administration is doing everything possible to mitigate the spill’s impact, to reimburse Gulf residents, and to hold BP’s feet to the fire.
In a strong, resolute and, yes, optimistic tone, he hit on all three.
-- "We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes."
-- "Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness."
Obama also called for Congress to pass energy reform, even drawing on some of JFK's man-to-the-moon rhetoric folks were wanting:
-- "Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny."
-- "As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of good, middle-class jobs – but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation – workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors."
Yes, the president's speech lacked specifics about how to achieve energy reform. (But who thought that legislative specifics would be the focus of a 15-minute address on the spill and how to respond to it?) It also was short, as the AP writes, on specifics about how he would be able to keep his promises on Gulf reconstruction and the BP fund to compensate Gulf residents.
And, yes, it probably contained too many war metaphors, and too much talk of presidential commissions.
But if the goal was to assure the public that Obama is on top of the crisis, that BP will be punished, that Gulf residents will be compensated, and that energy reform is too important to kick down the road, it certainly met expectations.