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Obama agenda: Reaction to the speech

The New York Times editorial page: “The speech … made us reflect on how little Mr. Bush accomplished by needlessly invading Iraq in March 2003 — and then ludicrously declaring victory two months later. Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction proved to be Bush administration propaganda. The war has not created a new era of democracy in the Middle East — or in Iraq for that matter. There are stirrings of democratic politics in Iraq that give us hope. But there is no government six months after national elections.”

More: “Mr. Obama graciously said it was time to put disagreements over Iraq behind us, but it is important not to forget how much damage Mr. Bush caused by misleading Americans about exotic weapons, about American troops being greeted with open arms, about creating a model democracy in Baghdad.”

All things considered, neoconservative writer Bill Kristol liked Obama’s speech. “President Obama opposed the war in Iraq. He still thinks it was a mistake. It's therefore unrealistic for supporters of the war to expect the president to give the speech John McCain would have given, or to expect President Obama to put the war in the context we would put it in. He simply doesn't believe the war in Iraq was a necessary part of a broader effort to fight terror, to change the Middle East, etc. Given that (erroneous) view of his, I thought his speech was on the whole commendable, and even at times impressive.”

But the Wall Street Journal editorial page didn’t like it. “President Obama has often struck us as an ambivalent Commander in Chief, and last night's 19-minute Oval Office address will do little to change that perception—especially abroad, where an American President's determination is most carefully parsed.”

Politico's Roger Simon: "For almost the entire speech, Obama remained impassive. He was not awesome." More: "The Iraq war started over an appalling mistake or an outrageous lie: that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that a madman, Saddam Hussein, was sitting in his palace with his finger on the nuclear button... But in his speech, President Obama let President Bush off the hook for all of that.

Rather than writing on last night’s speech, Maureen Dowd instead focused on the redecorated Oval Office.