Obama's State of Union Message: 'Game On'
Pundits see president's speech as a populist offensive
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2012 7:42 AM CST

(Newser) – President Obama delivered a feisty, populist State of the Union address last night (excerpts here, pictures here), and naturally pundits are dissecting and grading it today. Here's what they're saying:

  • "Obama had a simple message for Republicans: Game on," writes Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post. What on the surface was a typical post-partisan Obama speech was actually full of populist challenges to Republicans. "This is Obama version 2.0: Harder, more cynical but perhaps also more effective."

  • Noted "Obamacon" Andrew Sullivan was disappointed, trashing the speech as a hodge-podge of liberal policies. "I was hoping for a vision. I was hoping for real, strategic reform," he lamented in his Daily Beast liveblog. "We voted for Obama; now we find we got another Clinton."
  • Steve Kornacki of Salon dubs it Obama's "99% speech," because the president drew battle lines around income inequality. "He's embracing the idea that there is [a] fundamental philosophical divide between the parties," convinced that it's "political suicide" to attempt compromise with intractable Republicans.
  • Mark Halperin of Time gives the speech a "B," saying that Obama "achieved a good balance between lofty and accessible" and was "fully in command of policy," but that "the speech was clearly poll-tested to within an inch of its life."