I didn't get a chance to watch it straight through because of interruptions etc. but from what I saw and heard and caught up on later, our president did a pretty good job in his speech tonight.
It didn't do everything I would want it to, or say everything I would like to hear, but then I didn't run for president and if I had I don't think I would have won. Or probably anyone reading this. He's the one who has to deal with Republican intransigence and Democratic impatience...
...in the midst of an ongoing economic crisis that would have been a lot worse had he not done the things he did and gotten done the things he got done. I know plenty of people who are already benefiting from his healthcare reform. As much as I would like to see a single payer system, he still did manage to get passed the biggest healthcare reform in decades and succeeded where many others failed in that department (Clinton, for instance).
He also helped the "American auto industry" not only not disappear into oblivion, or just to survive, but to recover and thrive. He also ended some of the most egregious credit card corporations' exploitation of its customers, etc. etc. etc.
He hasn't done enough on the jobs front since the first stimulus package ended, and he's caved into the Republican right way too often in bargaining sessions, entered many of them already caving in sometimes, as some on the left will say he did tonight in his speech.
But given the most recent history of the "gridlock" in Congressional politics, I think he did a pretty politically adroit jujitsu move on the right by calling their bluff on what they've been claiming to want while at the same time demanding they pass a bill that has a lot in it that the left wants as well.
We'll see if there's any middle ground to be found. From the comments on this blog as well as others, maybe not, on the right or the left. I've been a committed leftist for most of my life and put more on the line often for radical leftist causes (as they were seen at the time) than most people I've known, but I've also learned that unfortunately or not the lesser of two evils is always better.
Because, in the long run, as I have stated here many times, there would have been a lot fewer corpses in Viet Nam and Laos and Cambodia had Humphrey won instead of Nixon, in fact hundreds of thousands less. And a lot fewer in Iraq, maybe even none, if Gore's defeat of Bush Junior hadn't been overturned by a rightwing dominated Supreme Court, that became a rightwing dominated Supreme Court because a lot of people decided they didn't care for either the Democrat or the Republican and either didn't vote or threw it away on a third or fourth or whatever party candidate.
Obama may not be the leader we'd hoped for or thought we voted for, and he's certainly disappointed me recently, but he's still leagues ahead of any Republican out there, and maybe even ahead of what a lot of folks on the left, including me at times, have come to see him as.
As we know, the Koch brothers, the bankrollers of the right and its power, compared Obama to Saddam Hussein, among others, but there are those on the left who make just as odious comparisons that not only don't hold up but add to the despair and disillusionment that lead to people not voting and the rest of us ending up with a rightwing president and a rightwing Congress and a rightwing Supreme Court.
His speech tonight wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad either.
[PS: Happy to see here that Krugman agrees with me on this.]