Rich Galen

It was a pretty good speech. In fact it was a very good speech. The President touched all the right notes, in the right order, with the kind of delivery which is second, in my lifetime, only to Ronald Reagan's ability to deliver a line.

The highly touted Kumbaya Seating appeared to be less than advertised, if only because Republicans and Democrats look pretty much like one another and, without "Hi! My Name is Billy (or Sally), What's Yours?" name tags it was hard to tell them apart.

The embargo for releasing the speech was busted by the National Journal which posted it on its website at 7:14. NJ apparently got it from a White House insider and promptly posted it on its website. When the President hugged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "Good speech," he responded, "Yeah, I don't have to give it now," acknowledging that it had been on the web for nearly two hours.

There are obvious policy differences between what the President wants and what Republicans are willing to give him. Indeed, there may be even greater policy differences between the President and House Democrats.

Republicans will not like the President's proposal to freeze certain discretionary spending for the next five years at current levels. The GOP wants the freeze to be at 2007 levels. Most Democrats may not want to freeze spending at all.

Republicans will not like doing away with the tax preferences enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. Democrats will not like lowering corporate tax rates across the board.

Democrats applauded the President's call for 80 percent of our electricity to be generated using alternative energy sources. Many of those same Democrats cringe at the notion of vastly increasing the number of nuclear plants to help get there.

The most important element of the President's speech was its optimism.

He challenged Americans to "out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world."

He reminded younger viewers how, in spite of the Soviet Union having beat the United States into space with the first artificial satellite - Sputnik - we beat them to the moon. We did that by inventing the tools to get to the moon and, in the course of that "we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs."


Mr. Obama had a pretty difficult first two years. Sixty-three Republican freshman facing him from the pews in the House Chamber attest to that. So, he swept the White House staff, which had served him for the first two years of his Administration, out onto the front lawn with all the emotion of Cinderella emptying the dustbin.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at