State of the Union: The Pundits React

US President Barack Obama delivers his annual State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress and the Supreme Court on January 25, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / Tim Sloan (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images) TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama delivers his annual State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress and the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Reactions to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech address from everyday Americans was largely positive. But there was plenty of room for disagreement in the world of political commentators, as you can see in our roundup of early reaction to the speech:


Newly-elected RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in a press release:

I appreciate President Obama joining Republicans and the American people in calling for fiscal restraint and a new focus on job creation, but rhetoric alone will not eliminate the job-crushing deficits and record unemployment that continue to hold back economic recovery. It is my hope that President Obama will follow through on his call for bipartisanship and work with Republicans to implement the fiscally responsible, pro-growth policies necessary to guarantee our nation's economic security for generations to come.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, in a press release:

The President charted a bold plan to win the future today by guaranteeing that the American people are able to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build competitors around the globe. President Obama will make America stronger by empowering more students to get the quality education they need to succeed in 21st Century jobs; by focusing on investments that support American talent and innovation; by building up American infrastructure; and by reforming government so that it's more responsible and responsive.

CBSNews.com Special Coverage: State of the Union 2011

Rep. Paul Broun(R-Ga.):

Via Twitter: Mr. President, you don't believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism. Press Release: It appears that the only thing President Obama has changed is his rhetoric. No matter how he tries to spin it, more spending has not and will not create jobs. The President's proposal to freeze spending at record-high levels is unacceptable.

Michelle Malkin, conservative commentator, via Twitter:

I'm all for road maps. But pardon me if I'm wary when the person selling me his map helped drive the car into the ditch.

Brit Hume, Fox News commentator:

This speech didn't suggest much (towards reducing the federal deficit) and it means he doesn't intend to do much.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, on Twitter:

Grateful that Obama spoke plainly that we can improve on Health Care legislation (excess regulations/law suits). He wasn't shallow & partisan.

Michael Moore, Filmmaker, on Twitter:

Dammit, speak the truth: Two outrageous wars have sunk us economically. Stop the wars, slash the Pentagon.
Bottom line: Obama's not a prgrssve but he has a good heart. He's the smartest guy in that rm &he's on our side. Need 2 keep pressure on him.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) on Fox News:

When I read between the lines I hear a lot of investing which sounds like spending. I think he's trying to double down on another stimulus. That's not gonna happen out of the new congress, for sure.

Paul Begala, CNN/Huffington Post commentator:

Critics will no doubt complain that the speech was a laundry list. But when you're feeling naked, clean laundry is a pretty useful thing. No one has ever walked up to me and said, "I need a visionary American competitiveness initiative." But lots of folks have told me, "I need a job." He used commonsense metaphors (Sputnik was the exception) like saying that "cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. You may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact."

Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC anchor:

Never has a joke in a presidential address fallen more flat than a joke about a plane crash.

Matt Miller, Commentator, Washington Post:

I love Obama's vision and wish I could believe. But between his speech, and Rep. Paul Ryan's pinched response, the truth remains this: Neither party has a political strategy that includes solving the country's biggest problems. Both major parties have strategies for winning elections while pretending to solve them, which is something very different.

Daniel W. Drezner, contributor, Foreign Policy magazine:

The administration is obviously using these kind of "we're falling behind other countries!" shtick as a way to build public support for investments in education and infrastructure. In the same speech he talks about falling behind South Korea, for example, he embraces the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Time magazine

This was a powerful speech that rightly called for a new spirit of civility and cooperation in our public discourse. But in discussing the terrible tragedy in Tucson, he missed an opportunity to bring the country together on an issue that has support among the vast majority of Americans: fixing the nation's broken background check system that is designed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Business Roundtable President John Engler, in  a press release:

Business Roundtable is heartened by President Obama's focus on American competitiveness. At the same time, we also urge a careful review of all new spending proposals mentioned tonight. As Chairman Paul Ryan made clear in his response, American prosperity depends on our ability to simultaneously manage down the debt and deficit as we work to boost competitiveness. This work must build on the outline suggested by the President's own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Gerald F. Seib, Wall Street Journal contributor:

The speech was designed to show that Mr. Obama, just two months after suffering deep bruises in the midterm election, has a grasp of what a previous president called the vision thing. With its talk of investing in education, basic research and new technologies, the address marked a conscious effort to end the phase of his presidency focused on getting the country out of its economic mess, and to move on to a search for what is beyond the mess.

Philip Weiss, blogger on Mideast issues:

There was no mention of Egypt in tonight's State of the Union Speech, though the State Department released a statement on Egypt (below) that was blandly supportive of the protests. Obama did mention Tunisia-- without any indication that the "dictator" he now denounces was "backed politically and militarily by the U.S. for more than two decades."

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), via Politico:

In the end, Obama got exactly what he wanted: He sailed above the partisan fray -- pointedly reaching out to Republicans on medical malpractice limits, cutting corporate tax rates and slashing domestic spending -- then watched as partisans dug back into their trenches.


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  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.

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