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February 24th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

President Obama's speech – it's all so different this year

John King
CNN Chief National Correspondent

It looks – and sounds – so different from the last time a president took this stage.

That president, of course, was George W. Bush. Over his shoulder sat Nancy Pelosi and Dick Cheney.

This time, it is Barack Obama. Pelosi remains, but she sure looks happier. And Joe Biden is in the chair reserved for the President of the Senate – one of the official duties of the vice president of the United States.

Last year, one of the big dramas on the House floor was the obvious coolness between then Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clnton. This year, Secretary of State Clinton was introduced with the Obama Cabinet, and exchanged a kiss with her former rival as he made his way into the chamber, as president, for this first speech to a joint session of Congress.

Different from a policy perspective, too. After 9/11, the war on terror dominated any Bush speech to Congress. The economy was the overwhelming focus of this first speech by President Obama – technically not a State of the Union Address.

We are still learning much about the governing and leadership style of Mr. Obama, and in the speech there is a telling glimpse at his domestic policy strategy. He knows he has support at the moment for his efforts to revive the economy. And so he made a calculated choice in this speech to list two policy areas on which predecessors failed to make serious progress – health care and energy – and to tie them to the nation's urgent economic challenge.

By tying these challenges to the urgent economic crisis, Mr. Obama hopes to transfer to those debates the public support he maintains, at least at the moment, for his economic agenda.

Already, even some allies are wondering if the president is trying to do too much at once. He is well aware of that danger, but has come to the conclusion that waiting is a more risky strategy.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. diana, Texas

    I have recently relocated from New York to Texas. If the stimulus plan can help build public transportation in the state of Texas (which it is lacking) then good ,because the people of Texas will end up paying for it one way or another.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  2. Yves

    I believe the president was very specific in his explainattions. He was very positive and optimism in how the nation bill recover . I strongly believe that people needs to hear more positive feeling like this because feeling positive will create confidence. Last thing for any body to lose is hope feeling hopeless creates fear and this not what we need at this time.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  3. Heather, NY

    Does Gov. Jindall think that if he spouts the same Republican retoric like he's reading a Dr. Suess book to a group of pre-schoolers that the American people will suddenly think the failed policies of the past are somehow going to work?
    I was disgusted by his response last night.
    He calls for bi-partisanship on Republican terms only and dismisses President Obama's call to do what is right for the American people. Republican tax breaks benefit only those corporations or individuals that HAVE money to spend. If you can buy the equipment or hire the employee up front, Republicans will give you the money back. Not everyone has the money up front.
    His did nothing last night but spout blatantly misleading spin and I for one am tired of it.
    CNN had to scrape the bottom of the barrell on their fact checking of President Obama's speach. Let's check Gov. Jindall's facts...his error's are numerous and insulting. And can anyone tell me why he would feel the need to reference a journey from the "lunch counter...to the highest office in the land?' I found that to be the height of disrespect.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  4. Leslie

    Maybe I'm wrong but I think you're a little too critical of my Pres. Your coverage of the speech last night disturbed me. The Madonna comment was childish! You can do better! Your other reporter; forget his name, was incorrect about who invented the automobile! He needs to check his facts! The first to have drawings of the auto were Leo da Vinci and Sir Issac. The first self-propelled road vechicle was invented by French engineer and mechanic, Nicolas J. Cunot in 1769; love those fries! ( Opps, sorry that was for O'Reiley) Auto Club de France along with the British Royal Autimobile Club were the first to recognize this. Several came after. In 1789, the first U.S. patent for a steam-powered land vechicle was granted to Oliver Evans. So I guess you could say it was a world-wide effort! To many history books give credit to Damller and Benz, that's unfair. I also might add while I'm no genius I know a litttle about this, I live in Germany and have for several years. So My president was not wrong, but your reporter was. Lighten up on my Pres. He's doing the best he can with the overwhelming mess he was left to him by W and his gang! Let's not forget that. You didn't put W and Co. under a scope and critique every bleeding word; not that there were many! Maybe if you had put pressure and looked for the truth; maybe no honest answers though, we might not be as bad off; ya think? 🙂 We are all in this togther, like Mr. Obama or not, he is your Pres too! United we stand as a Nation or divided we fall as a people. I thought your exclusive interview with Mr. Obama was disrespectful; boy you forgot your manners on that one! I was thinking what my parents would have done to me if I'd have given that interview the way you did. Old Bill Cosby joke springs to mind. 🙂 My He granted you; CNN, something special, he didn't have too. I've lost a lot of respect for you since Katrina! So mis-steps aside, cover my Pres fairly, like you claim to do in that irritating new trailer for your show; did you approve that? 😦 Previous one was better.
    Well that's My Story and I'm sticking to it!
    Peace-Out
    The Pimpernel

    February 25, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  5. David J, Texas

    I'll be honest, I want to give the presedent a chance but with all the money he has spent in his first month as our presedent he's going to have to file for bankrupcy for our country unless he finds a way to cover for all the money he is spending. Yeah it's great that we will get tax breaks and benifits for buying houses and cars but lets be honest, the money has to come from somewhere and everything I have read about our curent det is that we are in the red in a big way. So by Obama spending 760 billion on a bill is to me not a good idea. Now I might be wrong, I mean I don't know everything so there could be a master plan to save us and I'm just not aware of it.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  6. Clark Hurlbert

    Gov. Jindal says that the stimulus bill is irresponsible and that the government needs to back off spending.

    How many dollars has Louisiana taken from the US Governemnt to rebuild New Orleans?

    Gov. Jindal says he will not accept $100 million of stimulus monies for unemployment, but is willing to accept $9 billion in other aid. He is turning away about 1% of the government stimulus.

    So I guess that Obama is 99% correct or Jindal is 99% wrong.

    The Republicans need to get back to reality and state reality to the American people if they ever want to get back in control.

    February 25, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  7. Sarah from TN

    Obama is trying to help! Help people, help this economy, this country and all you hear is negative response mostly from republicans, Jidall is as pathetic as his party. THEY JUST DON'T GET IT!! propably never will. Republicans are dilusional fools!!

    February 25, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  8. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    Clinton and Obama did indeed come to respect each other and work together....perhaps the Republicans in Congress might get over their posturing, roll up their sleeves, and join in on the reconstruction of the US economy. My mother always made me clean up my mess!

    February 25, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  9. NJ - Republican no longer

    I am appalled at Governor Jindall's response. I found it to be irresponsible and it did show the true hostility between Republicans versus Democrats. The entire political process is becoming an insult to the American people. These elected officials are suppose to represent the people not their party "leaders". True leader (what these officials are suppose to represent) is suppose to work for the common good, inspire and motivate. The Republicans are doing the opposite and will destroy the party if they keep beating the Republican drum instead of showing a TRUE EFFORT for the AMERICAN people. Gov Jindalls response was devisive, showed a true lack of respect for the president and showed that the Republican party will not work to rebuild this country, but will continue to run the party agenda (not the agenda for the American people).

    February 25, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  10. Mary of Missouri

    I have nothing but admiration for Mr. Obama's efforts. He has courage not displayed in recent years by our leaders. When he talked about health care reform I had to wonder what the respnse would be if he asked every congressman to give up their sweet insurance packages and scramble for new coverage (with their pre-existing conditions) just like the rest of us. I imagine if that were the case, health care reform would move to the top of the "to do" list in Congress.

    February 25, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  11. cindy

    seriously?....president obama won the election on his ability to motivate with a message of hope, despite his lack of experience, or his actions and relationships that revealed ideals that are not mainstream america.

    i guess what i am trying to say all this renewed "hope" in him after another great speech despite his actions, AGAIN?

    folks look at his policy, appointments and pushing a bill that was anything but transparent, not his words. hold him accountable or you will be left with a memory of hope and a country that its members depend on government instead of the understanding of their own unique contribution to a great country.

    blaming bush will only be an excuse for so long, at some point we will be forced to deal with a president and his administration where actions more clearly represent the man than his words.

    February 25, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  12. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Experience is a difficult teacher-–it gives the test first-–and the lesson second--–and the President is going to be very experienced in a short period of time.

    February 25, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  13. Linda B., Ga

    All I will say is "GIVE THE MAN A CHANCE" to try to bring things around. So many are QUICK to criticize! Pres. Obama took over/inherited an economy that was in the dumper. Let's see what happens with his proposals....

    and............ any State Gov, Sen, Congressperson says their state doesn't need financial assistance is FULL OF IT, if I lived in any state where my Political offical said they didn't need the $$'s my mouth would be gapping a mile long.....

    February 25, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  14. Veronica Jensen

    Anderson I watch you every night. Please make a very needed correction pertaining to our President. He is not 100% African. He represents me as well. I am American Mexican descendent.
    The media is incorrect in making this statement. We are all Americans and I would like for our President to reflect this. Not a Africian President. HIs wife is the first Black First Lady. I buy that, but not our President. He is a son of a white mother and brought up by two white grandparents. He represents everyone. As for the monkey cartoon no one should have been offended. I would like to have seen the same people make such a fuss over any previous attacks on any of the previous Presidents.
    As for the speech last night, the media has not pick up on the fact that Presdient mention about the Big corporation having no more tax cuts for sending our job oversea or offshore. Talking about offshore, can CNN do a report as to how many professional jobs we have lost to offshore. This is why this recession is different from the one back in the late 70's and early 80's. The media does not do a good job about reporting all the professional jobs, engineers, programmers, researchers and even all of our customer services jobs which have gone offshore. Professional jobs pay a six digit figure. Why doesn't CNN do more reports on this subject. Losing our economy to OFFSHORE.
    As for the auto makers, sure we have been living off the fat of the land. But the ones really responsible for this mess is really the Congress and the Senate house. The lobbyist who have make sure that our representation is bought for the personal agendas of big business or the foreign countries.
    I admire President Obama. I am 59 years and a great believer of change. Change is the most wonderful thing one can posess and experience throughout our lives. I look forward to my day and seek the opportunity to learn and change for the better. Nothing is permanent or last forever except CHANGE.

    February 25, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  15. Ivan Nazario

    I was somehow embarrased for Governor Jindall and his so call rebuttal to President Obama's address. I lived in Louisiana until Katrina for 12 years, and for him to use La as a platform for his speech was despicable, irresponsible and hipocritical. These are the people to perpetuate divisions from the rich and the poor, the black and the whites and left thousands of citizens perished during a hurricane. Before Governor Jindall launches himself to the national arena, he has a lot to fix in his back yard, I wish him luck in dealing with such deep corruption, it will take more of his Indian heritage and upbringing to change course.

    February 25, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  16. Michelle

    I am excited that President Obama wants to bring
    us into the 21st century. America can be the world's
    leader in innovation in education,technology and
    new job creation.

    February 25, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  17. edward

    Yes we can...steal your money.
    Tax the rich, feed the poor, 'til there are no rich no more.
    Hope is not a strategy. Neither is change.

    February 25, 2009 at 8:24 am |
  18. Mary O

    It seems from this end that the only ones making Americans nervous and the markets are down would be the rebublicans and their pesimistic attitude with the plan the president has.
    I suggest they BACK OFF

    February 25, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  19. Floyd Barry

    I heard a lot of talk about how Pres. Obama is tying too many things together in his recovery plan. I believe their can be no recovery without tying them all together. Also we need to regulate the Insurance industry along with the banking industry and health care, not only that but the Pharmaceutical Companies too. Because they are all tied together and greedy and corrupt!

    February 25, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  20. BettyAnn, Nacogdoches,TX

    Good Morning John,
    I missed the speech for medical reasons so I have to see the recap today or the CNN highlights.
    One thing is for sure, Pres. Obama's plate is over-flowing.
    I believe he is sincere and is trying to save the day. If he does, he will be a hero.
    let's just pray it all works out! I'm thinking positive!
    Thanks for your input John. You are a rock! You rock too!
    XO's

    February 25, 2009 at 8:10 am |
  21. linda

    When people feel they are in crisis, they will rally around each other and leadership that offers them a life raft. Obama did that last night. Of any of our elected officials, Obama has the courage, ethics and intelligance to lead us toward solutins for our current disasters. The time for acimony is over. The time to work across party lines, shoulder to shoulder, merging our many workable ideas into those that will work, is now.

    February 25, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  22. Larry L.

    I would rather us still be talking about Iraq -–the stock market , our economy,and 401K's were in better shape before.Soon we will be talking about Afghanistan,Iraq,The economy,terrorism,what happened and why isn't the stimulus working.

    February 25, 2009 at 8:01 am |
  23. bernadette

    just a note on the president's speech-i thought it was a great one-
    i myself do believe the new president will do all he can to help "we the people" in the middle class that really does not exist any more-we are now"working poor" but i must say president obama is intelligent and articulate to the 9's quite a difference from the past-
    but my remark is that the gop last night during the speech mostly looked like defiant three years olds-or frozen faced zombies-do they not get it-we the people are tired of "the line in the sand"
    gov jindel(to me) appeared to mirror or try to mirror president obama's background and agenda-but with the gop taking credit for this-shaking my head as i watched
    thank you
    bernadette in nj

    February 25, 2009 at 7:08 am |