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US media react to Obama speech

President Barak Obama
A thumbs up for the speech from the US media, with reservations

Many US headline writers focus on three words from President Barack Obama's address to Congress.

"Day of reckoning". This small phrase is playing big in the US media.

Plenty of commentators point out that in his first month in office, the US president has verbally delivered much gloom - and the nation needed him to lift some of the clouds.

They apparently got what they wanted and there is overall agreement that President Obama did what he does well: Deliver a good speech.

President Barack Obama laid out an agenda that would do just about everything but cure cancer. Actually, he promised to try that too
Carrie Budoff Brown
Politico
But there is caution and it is perhaps best summarised this way: After doing the talk, he now needs to do the walk.

Writing in the Washington Post, Tom Shales says President Obama "doesn't seem capable of bad speeches".

Mr Shales does not stop there, adding: "There isn't much further he can go as a speech-maker."

But he concludes: "The honeymoon might go on, but if it turns out to be a case of too much talk and too little action, the great communal cry of national disappointment will be crushing, and cruel.

"It [the address] was all nearly perfect. Now the two words uppermost in the national consciousness: 'What next?'."

'Masterful politician'

Among some bloggers, you can also read hints of scepticism and nagging questions appear to remain.

Carrie Budoff Brown, writes on the Politico website: "President Barack Obama laid out an agenda that would do just about everything but cure cancer.

"Actually, he promised to try that too."

A similar point is picked up by Tucker Carlson, writing on the Daily Beast, who says he wants more detail on the "cure cancer" point.

Carlson accepts the speech was "hopeful and ambitious" but adds: "I must have missed the part where he explained how to restart the economy, create jobs, reduce the deficit, bring peace to the Middle East - and cure cancer."

Mr Carlson grants President Obama the title of "masterful politician", noting his address was sprinkled with "enough sweeteners to trigger diabetes".

The "sweeteners" included tax cuts, peace between Israel and Palestinians, as well as that "end of cancer", he says.

"The list went on," Mr Carlson writes. "How much of this can we believe? Personally, I'd like to believe all of it. Obama seems like a decent guy... But I can't."

'Rose to the occasion'

Peter Baxter in the New York Times also suggests that the president comes over as a "decent guy".

"The young new president projected a voice of generational confidence to a public that by one measure is less confident than at any other time since Mr Obama was in grade school." he writes.

President Obama's script
Heavy on optimism, short on numbers
Sam Stein
Huffington Post
But Mr Baxter adds a note of caution: "Mr Obama now must find a way to get his own credit flowing to cash in on a big investment."

An editorial in the same newspaper also seems largely impressed with the address.

The NYT says it wanted to see "more of Barack Obama the candidate, in Barack Obama the president" pointing out that since taking office he has not been "assertive, ambitious, clear - or audacious - enough".

One disappointment for the New York Times was the lack of more clarity about his rescue plan for the nation's banking system.

But the paper's verdict is that "he rose to the occasion".

"Lofty rhetoric"

Richard Cohen, in the Washington Post, says the speech was "more aspiration than plan". But he concludes: "He is president at last - and not a minute too soon".

Sam Stein, writing for the Huffington Post, also calls for more detail. His view on the address: "Heavy on optimism, short on numbers, filled with lofty rhetoric and lined with emotion."

Andrew Sullivan in the Daily Dish summarises what many in the media seem to be saying.

He accepts the "politics and rhetoric are superb" but adds: "The results are all that matter now.

"He [Mr Obama] has this moment; it could make him and the rest of us. It could destroy him or us."



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