As with most things related to President Obama, the post-speech analysis of the State of the Union appeared directly related to political slant and party affiliation. To Democrats he hit it out of the park; to Republicans it was empty rhetoric.
But while they weren’t gushing over his policy proposals, even some Republicans were complimentary of his oratorical skill.
“A speech by Barack Obama is a lot like sex,” said GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos. “The worst there ever was is still excellent.”
A snap CNN/ORC International poll found that 44 percent of respondents had a “very positive” response to Obama’s speech, while 32 percent described a “somewhat positive” response—meaning 76 percent of Americans had positive reviews. Another 22 percent didn’t like it at all.
This compares with last year, when Obama’s popularity was much higher coming off a resounding re-election victory, when 53 percent of respondents in a similar poll rated their response to the 2013 address as very positive.
The official Republican response last night was delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, but there were also responses by the Tea Party and by Sen. Rand Paul.
Rodgers complained that Obama’s policies “are making people’s lives harder.”
“We hope the president will join us in a year of real action — by empowering people — not by making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes, and fewer jobs,” she said.
The same CNN/ORC poll indicated 59 percent of respondents thought Obama’s policies as presented in the speech would help the economy, a lower figure than in recent years.
But then there are responses like that of right-wing Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican.
This lawmaker said this on Twitter: “Obama politicizes the military to end his speech. Totally expected Mr. President.”
After going on MSNBC to have host Rachel Maddow tear him to pieces over his tweets comparing Obama to a king, Huelskamp claimed that Obama’s speech fell flat outside of Washington—though he made these claims directly after the speech, so it’s not clear how he conducted his research.