Obama's SOTU Had 'Retro Flavor'

But lefty goals that could have been backed by JFK, FDR might not get far: pundits

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 13, 2013 4:39 AM CST | Updated Feb 13, 2013 7:49 AM CST

(Newser) – Pundits agree: President Obama's speech last night marked a firm push for progressive goals, shedding much of the bipartisan focus we've heard from him in recent years. A sampling of what analysts are saying:

  • The speech had a "retro flavor—'Democrat Classic,'" writes Glenn Thrush at Politico. It "could have been comfortably delivered by JFK, FDR, or LBJ," marking "the latest step in a clear effort by Obama to nudge the nation’s politics to the center-left." At the same time, it had its similarities to Marco Rubio's response: "At times, the blue-collar rhetoric employed by Obama and Rubio tracked so closely as to co-mingle, like alternating verses in a Bruce Springsteen song."

  • "That was an incredibly ambitious speech," writes Ezra Klein at the Washington Post. If all the measures Obama proposed last night, from gun control to minimum wage, were to pass, "America would be a noticeably different country," he notes. "It’s often the case that candidates are more ambitious than presidents. But Obama’s second term is showing precisely the reverse progression."
  • The Los Angeles Times calls the speech "the most forceful defense of liberal values uttered on this occasion by any president since Lyndon Johnson"—a comment similar to Newt Gingrich's, the New York Times notes. But while Obama "has the support of the American people" on many of his goals, "it wasn't clear how he'd get his ideas, many of them recycled from his first term, through a polarized Congress."
  • Despite that polarization, the president "explained to a wide audience what could be achieved if there were even a minimal consensus in Washington," note the editors of the New York Times. Obama's "task now is to turn his widespread public support into a wedge to break Washington’s gridlock."

President Barack Obama is greeted after giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.
President Barack Obama is greeted after giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama leaves after giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.
President Barack Obama leaves after giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. Patrick Leahy greets President Obama after his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.
Sen. Patrick Leahy greets President Obama after his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)
President Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, gives his State of the Union address, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013.
President Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, gives his State of the Union address, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)
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