At The Atlantic Wire, Heather Horn reports that President Obama gets points from the left for his rhetorical style and laying a "reassuring, common-sense blueprint"; Republican commentators Alex Castellanos and Karl Rove say the speech won't change anything for the president.
Liberals on Twitter, reacting during the speech, liked it--FiveThirtyEight called it a "three-run home run," Markos Moulitsas enjoyed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal pledge (and took note of Defense Secretary Robert Gates's applause), and Ezra Klein said Obama looked like he "was on top of the world. That, in itself, seems like a significant accomplishment."
A CBS poll reported that 83 percent of respondents approved of the speech Obama gave. Polls had shown Americans overwhelmingly wanting the White House to focus on jobs and the economy as it pushed or health care reform, and evidently Obama's speech did well to give viewers the impression that he's on the same page they are. From CBS's poll write-up:
70% of speech watchers think Barack Obama shares the same priorities for the country as they do. 57% thought so before the speech.
And the president got solid marks from conservative blogger Ed Morrissey of HotAir:
@EdMorrissey #SOTU Final grades from me - Delivery: A. He was engaged, personable, cajoling, energetic, played well to cameras ...
@EdMorrissey #SOTU Substance: C+/B- Nothing new, stated his agenda clearly, meandered a bit by returning to previous topics ...
@EdMorrissey #SOTU Impact: No grade, as SOTU speeches rarely have ANY impact except as scorecard later on everything not pursued. Not a game changer ...
@EdMorrissey #SOTU But SOTUs never are. Definitely above average performance.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), a progressive House Democrat who has been unafraid to rain on moderate Democratic and White House parades in the past, gave the president high marks in an interview with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC:
If one of the primary things the president needed to do in this speech [was to say]...we get it, we understand the challenges that people are facing and we're trying to solve them, the president did that from the moment the speech began and right throughout...he could have come into this speech kinda woe is me, we're in kind of a tough situation, I'm sorry--instead he leaned in and made it very clear he's going to lead with this agenda going forward, I think, and those of us in Congress were very pleased to hear that.
SEIU has been the most forceful of the major progressive groups in voicing displeasure with the way things have gone on health care, but its statement from President Andy Stern led off:
Tonight, President Obama gave a dramatic reminder of why so many of us joined his unprecedented call for change two years ago. The fact is, this president's priorities--creating millions of new jobs, reforming our broken healthcare system, and holding accountable the parties that crashed our economy in the first place--are our priorities. They're the priorities of the men and women across this country who get up each morning with no greater hope or desire than to provide decent lives for themselves and their kids.
"One year into his presidency, President Obama has acted quickly to move us out of the Dark Ages of the Bush administration. But today, we need even bolder solutions to address the solutions that America's working families need. ...
So it looks like, from early reactions: in a speech that led with jobs and the tax cuts the administration put into place with the stimulus, liberals like the way President Obama comported himself, most of all: the praise tonight is over how he appeared before Congress and the rhetoric he used. Most of the excitement, meanwhile is over the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" pledge, which is causing considerable stir, even as Obama has pledged to work to repeal the policy before.