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Obama agenda: The reviews are in

The New York Times editorial page liked the speech. “Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was President Obama’s chance to rise above that pinched vision, to help Americans understand that while government cannot do everything, it is indispensable in reviving the economy, spurring innovation, educating Americans and keeping them healthy and making the nation competitive globally. Mr. Obama took on those issues, and the Republicans, squarely. Rebutting their single-minded focus on slashing discretionary domestic spending, Mr. Obama said we have to 'stop pretending' that cutting this kind of spending 'alone will be enough.'" 

The Washington Post didn’t. "PRESIDENT OBAMA entered office promising to be a different kind of politician - one who would speak honestly with the American people about the hard choices they face and would help make those hard calls. Tuesday night's State of the Union Address would have been the moment to make good on that promise. He disappointed."

The Boston Globe's editorial board said the speech provided "the kind of straight talk that should build confidence in people in economically struggling corners of Massachusetts and other states from which old-line manufacturing jobs have fled. Those jobs won’t come back. But with a real commitment to education and to rebuilding the economic landscape — from roads and bridges to the tax code — and to investing in the most promising industries, such as renewable energy, people in those places and all across the country will get better jobs and have better futures."

More: "Obama should have given this speech earlier in his presidency, because it validated the promise of generational change and casting aside old resentments that helped vault him over Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2008. And while his first two years saw many accomplishments, many were piecemeal and suggested an understandable lurching to answer crises. Meanwhile, his greatest win, health reform, seemed oddly disconnected from the immediate problems facing many Americans… This agenda is the truer progeny of his 2008 promise of hope and change." 

Here’s the take from NBC’s David Gregory: “Immediate reaction to the speech tonight is that it felt flat. The reaction was polite, but hardly rousing. It seemed hard for the President to feed off the audience even as he offered a speech that was soaring in its approach and reach. I describe it as a call to arms to reclaim American exceptionalism. The President mentioned more than once that there are qualities that set our nation apart from others. He talked more than once about winning the economic future. This was a down payment on his reelection campaign theme which will be how America comes back from near financial collapse stronger than before. It's an optimistic message but one that overlooks how fractious the debate about innovation and competitiveness will be with Republicans in Congress.”

Politics Daily's Melinda Henneberger: "Yes, the speech was laudable without ever making me want to cheer; it neither soared nor stumbled, but reminded us that everyone needs an editor. But it did succeed in presenting the president as the centrist he is, picking up on some Republican ideas while giving what in long stretches sounded like a U.S. Chamber of Commerce speech encouraging major investment in clean technology. I might have been set up for a bit of a disappointment when White House spokesman Robert Gibbs promised that this speech would not be the usual laundry list of hopes and dreams; in a long middle section, that's exactly what it was."

The New York Post's Charles Hurt asserts the president sounded more like a Tea Partier than the head of the Democratic Party. "The question now is whether the President Obama we heard last night was genuine -- or the speech was just another cynical political ploy by a Washington politician looking ahead to his re-election next year. Will Obama actually follow through and lead his party to join Republicans to lower the corporate tax rate, dramatically cut the deficit and finally put an end to the political pork spending that politician after politician has proved is the "gateway drug" to corruption? A glance at his record does not leave much room for hope."