This was probably President Obama’s flattest performance. The mixed seating probably had a lot to do with that — Congress simply didn’t have the usual partisan cues to know when to stand up and when to keep their seats. There were no memorable lines, and no real policy shifts. The president seemed bored about half way through it, and as unserious as ever on the foreign policy section. He said something about salmon, said something else about Sputnik, and something else about something else, with lots of human props and less than riveting anecdotes along the way.
Update: Other reactions:
Brent Bozell: ““The speech was nothing more than bad acting on a big stage; if this was Broadway the show would be closed down by midnight. A so-called budget freeze when annual deficits are in the trillions and we’re on the brink of default is an insult to every working family that is struggling to make ends meet while the federal government shows no discipline. The American people have spoken repeatedly and emphatically: don’t freeze spending, cut spending. Get us back on solid financial ground, alleviate the uncertainty about the future so the economy can grow and people can find work. And yet the President continues to cover his ears and press his Leftist agenda of more spending and bigger government.”
Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America: “President Obama gets an “F” on the idea of a “freeze” on government spending. The President’s plan basically rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is too little too late to rescue our economy and the current $14 Trillion debt will only continue to grow. Concerned Women for America calls for the President to rollback spending to 2008 levels, to reform entitlements and to lower taxes on businesses and individuals. If he is looking for ideas of programs to cut we suggest he starts with hundreds of millions being used to prop up the abortion industry.”
Update – GOP response reax: Rep. Paul Ryan was serious and brief in his response to the president. He provided more specifics than the president did, but that’s not saying much. The response suffered from the same things these speeches always suffer from — the lack of a live audience to feed off of, the drab setting, the lone man or woman in the room approach. Ryan did about as well as can be done in those circumstances. Of the two speeches (so far), his was by far the more grown up.
Bachmann response: The content was fine, the staging was terrible. Her prompter was off to one side of the camera, making it look like she was talking to someone behind the viewer. Delivery was meh. She would have been more useful, and far more effective, going straight on MSNBC or CNN after the SOTU and fisking that speech rather than delivering her own.