I'm snowed under so haven't had time to write a lengthy piece on Obama's State of the Union address last night. However, my immediate reactions were as follows:
1. Obama did a good job of highlighting his successes - an important task for him given the relentless nonsense coming out of the GOP Presidential hopefuls. Mentioning the killing Osama Bin Laden was good politics (not good policy since the US illegally entered Pakistani territory to do it - another topic altogether), and it helps make Obama look tough.
2. Obama spent a lot of time challenging the Republican Congress to let him pass legislation to re-invest in the country, reform the tax code and boost the economy. I think this is a good tactic given the Republicans have blocked everything he has tried to do. Obama is essentially saying 'it's your fault nothing is happening, and I'm not taking the blame any more'.
3. The speech was big on details - he laid out how he wanted to spend money, how he would reform the tax code, how he would curb rising education costs and how he would spend money on infrastructure. It sounded great and it again places the responsibility on Congress to let him do it.
4. Obama seemed genuinely fired up - it was the beginning of his re-election campaign and he seems ready to go. The Republicans should be very worried about this given the front runners in their primaries.
5. The President promised a lot of bold policy initiatives - his plan to have a federal requirement for kids to stay in school till 18 will raise a lot of eyebrows (expect Fox to call him a dictator and a socialist), and his plan to cut funding for universities that raise tuition sounded great. I'm not exactly sure how it will pan out (I'm guessing lots of professors will get fired to make up the difference), but it made him look decisive and tough.
Overall, it was a good speech, heavy on the specifics and designed to box the Republicans in. There's virtually no chance his promises of financial reform and watchdog units will transpire (we've had 4 years and nothing has happened), but it was a good start to his re-election campaign. As stated before, as much as Obama has let the country down on multiple issues, he is so much better than the alternatives that it would be insane to vote him out of office for 2012.