I've delayed writing my response to Obama's State of the Union. My response post here certainly won't be as fiery as Return to Locke's response was. I hope that it's not mistaken for apathy over the speech, because nothing could be further from the truth.
I believe that when Presidents give the State of the Union address, they must claim the the State of the Union is strong or use similarly encouraging words. I think this was especially true for Obama, even though our nation is at one of it's most vulnerable times in recent memory.
If Obama were to impose the harsh reality too strongly, he could cause a panic in the market or other similarly disastrous events. Thus, his goals for the State of the Union were to inspire and encourage America while showing he understood the problems facing the nation and offer pragmatic solutions. I believe he did all this, and he did it well.
At time throughout the night, I felt like the State of the Union was closer to Obama's early stump speeches in the 2008 campaign (particularly during the democrats' primary). Obviously, we are drawing close to the start of another election season, so this theme was not surprising. I felt like the tone and mood were both appropriate and exactly what I wanted to see from the president. I hope that it inspires the nation, or at least prevents any panic.
I poked fun at the president when he mentioned a sputnik moment, and the phrase has since been roasted. I think that the idea though, is a good one. We need something for the American people to rally around - right now the doom and gloom is overwhelming. What we lack now is a clear target - the goals Obama set out simply were widespread or "important" enough to become a major rallying cry. Sadly, the only examples of goals that would unite America are threats or tradegy. (Pearl Harbor, 9/11, The Soviet threat) I hope it doesn't come down to that in the future.
Back to the speech - I can't agree more enthusiastically with the President on the issue of don't ask, don't tell and No Child Left Behind. Both need to go!
The overhaul of the Tax Code is ambitious and overdue, but I'll withhold my judgment until I see that actually happen. Cutting corporate tax is probably a good idea - even though 70% of corporations don't pay any tax at all. Tax rate means little with the exemptions and deductions they get!
Overall, I felt like it was a return to form for Obama. Glad to see it and I hope he carries through with his goals.