Here's the obvious difference for me between President Obama and our last president. After the invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein's government, Bush Junior made a speech declaring the "end of combat operations in Iraq" standing on the deck of a Navy aircraft carrier under a sign saying "MISSON ACCOMPLISHED."
It was great propaganda, but it was a complete and total lie.
However, according to the latest studies on how people respond to imagery and slogans and written and spoken language, it was very well designed to be a lasting image and message in the minds of most people who, it turns out, often don't use logic and reason to assess situations and people but rather respond to the instant emotional impact for which simple slogans and simply digested images work best.
Now that "combat operations" have come to an end in Iraq, and it's been quite a while since "American troops" have suffered major casualties or caused them in that country, and the mess that the previous president and his team caused has been at least tidied up if not cleaned up, President Obama is going to make a speech tonight in which he will most likely tell the truth in accessing the situation in Iraq and what he and his administration have done and are doing there, but it will probably be too nuanced and too well-reasoned for most people to get an instant emotional response.
Many, instead, won't even watch the speech but will respond to his critics' or supporters' reaction to it, most likely reinforcing their beliefs. The president's critics will score points with the undecided by casting the moment in simple and easy to understand terms that play on peoples' emotions even though their criticisms will bend the truth if not be based on outright lies.
Whereas, when it became apparent that the previous administration had not prepared for the events that unfolded in Iraq and were doing a terrible job of coping with them, anyone who pointed that out was called "unpatriotic" if not an outright "traitor"—President Obama will probably go out of his way tonight to avoid criticizing the previous president and his screw up(s). A humane and reasonable, but not very politically savvy, response.
What the Dems should be doing is using some of the right's tactics, like deriding the right's incredible record of failure when given the chance to govern (the financial collapse, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq, the third-world-ization of "America" where fewer and fewer people control more and more of the wealth, etc.) and have Obama, standing before a backdrop of a rising sun (Reagan's "it's morning in America" as the gap between rich and poor was expanding, homelessness was becoming common even for families with children, etc.) greeting the returning combat troops from Iraq with the emotional homecomings with families etc. declaring "I have kept my promise to end the war in Iraq."
(And yes I know there's still fifty thousand troops left in an advisory capacity, and I too wish they were all gone, but 50,000 and not actively fighting is still better than 140,000 and many of them being killed or killing others, often innocent bystanders.)