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Obama Seizes the Stage

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Excerpts from President Obama's first major address to a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009.Video: AP, Editor: Jacqueline Refo/washingtonpost.com

Quickie CBS poll: Percentage of those who approve of Obama's plan jumped from 62 to 79 percent.

CNN's Facebook survey: 52 percent hopeful, 22 percent no change, 26 percent fearful.

L.A. Times: "Obama was elected president as an agent of hope. But he has spent the first month of his presidency promoting a fearsome message: The recession will be long and deep, and possibly as bad as the Great Depression.

"His first speech before a joint session of Congress gave the president an opportunity to counter critics who say he has been too downbeat. Even former President Clinton has been telling Obama to lighten up to boost the nation's morale. In his speech, Obama brought in more of the optimism that was his campaign trademark."

New York Times: "Mr. Obama sought to convince an angry, anxious America that a moment of crisis is actually a time for expanding aspirations, not shrinking horizons . . .

"As he tried to navigate the divide between hope and realism, the vision he articulated was in some ways anything but unifying. His ideas for raising taxes on the wealthy, revamping the health care system and reversing climate change represent a philosophical agenda that strikes at the heart of the other party's core beliefs."

Washington Times: "He used his oratory skills in a format that's served him best throughout his political rise: the prepared speech, in a grand setting, that allows him to transcend the media filter and talk directly to Americans."

Roger Simon: "It was a night when Barack Obama showed why he had been elected president. . . . At moments, his speech had almost Churchillian rhythms to it."

Andrew Sullivan: "I don't recall a more impassioned welcome -- at least since Bush's September 2001 address. You sense even Washington understands the gravity of the moment and want this man to succeed."

New Republic's Jonathan Cohn: "I thought the optimism and emotional uplift was actually pretty sparse tonight. After proclaiming that America would recover, he spent most of his speech describing his plan for making that happen. And he was quite business-like about it."

Bobby Jindal, meanwhile, struck a gracious note by praising the tableau of the first African American president, but his delivery, and emphasis on his personal story, was very odd. Townhall's Amanda Carpenter twitters: " Ok, some conservative needs to start a campaign to fire whoever wrote this cheesy response and coached him to talk like this. I can't watch."

Rich Lowry sees liberalism in just about everything Obama is doing:


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