I've said before that Obama's speaking style is stilted, over-rehearsed and flat. There is no passion, there are only changes in volume. He doesn't know how to wait for applause to start before launching into the next sentence, he doesn't know how to wait for applause to end before continuing. Last night he showed he had almost no idea how brilliant some of his better achievements were, nor how much FAIL some of his other pet projects contained. Sending more troops to Afghanistan, for instance, is made of fail, covered with fail sauce, with a side of loser - yet he paused for applause which never came. OTOH the ARRA (aka Recovery Act) had so much win you could build a whole hill full of solar win-mills from it, yet he seemed to expect only moderate applause for it. He also has an annoying habit of gesturing with one hand and then plunk it down loudly on the podium at the end of each sentence. I had to watch the video to see what that thumping was.
He complained about partisan politics, and he is right, is has gotten completely out of hand. But when you have a huge majority in the House and 60/40 in the Senate, as head of your party you need to lean on those people to put effective leadership in place. As senator-for-a-day, Obama has zero clout in Congress, he doesn't know where any of the bodies are buried, or who has what to barter. And even if her did, I doubt he would have the guts to use it. Strident as Hilary is, she was dealing with those people for 8 years as FL and another 6 as Senator. He might ask her for some clues. Lyndon Johnson took his massive knowledge of Congresscreatures and forged one of the strongest bonds between a Prez and Congress evah. Barak is no LBJ.
For those of you too young to remember, under LBJ's watch and with his urging, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, instituted Medicare/Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, work study, the National Endowment for The Arts, The Elementary & Secondary Education Act, The Higher Education Act and the Public Broadcasting Act.
Johnson had the grace to not run for re-election when it was clear his war policies were whacked. If we're not out of Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran by 2012 as he promised last night, I would expect the same from Obama. But we'll see.
Lots of words about education, but not lots of effective programs. Education is one of those things which is in the hands of each state, and while a $10k/year tax credit to parents who send a kid to college sounds noble, it's (a) far from enough and (b) arrives way after the bills needed to be paid. Forgiving a large % of loans when a college grad goes into public service is a crock. Go back to the 1970's policy of forgiving loans for those who go into teaching. Amusing that those used to be called National Defense Student Loans.
He promised to cut taxes. With fewer people employed, he needs to raise taxes, not lower them. Simple math, boss. With one exception - make unemployment insurance payments tax-free. Biggest WTF of my life, having to pay taxes when I'm out of work and living on a pittance.
The "we don't quit" ending was a repeat of previous speeches, and it would have been nice if he said it like he meant it, and waited a bit so the applause didn't drown him out. It also would have helped if his speech had led into it, instead of being pulled out of thin air.
On balance, a flop. YMMV.