No, this speech won’t be remembered for any great policy initiatives. But I was struck by the president’s tone, particularly his feistiness. He did not sound like a president who got his hat handed to him in Massachusetts last week. He took his “share of the blame” for not communicating his vision well to the public – something we’ve criticized him for – but he was not particularly conciliatory. He challenged Republicans saying if they are “going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town . . . then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership.”

He even took on the U.S. Supreme Court with his knock against the decision last week giving corporations the same free speech rights as individuals to engage in elections. “With all due deference to separation of powers,” he said, “last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.”

He seemed confident and showed some moments of relaxed humor. And I disagree with those who contend he had no theme. I thought he spoke very clearly about perseverance and the need for unity in government for the betterment of the country. Not particularly ground-breaking, but a commitment to overcome partisanship is probably the most populist message he can send these days.

To see a transcript of the speech or watch a replay, click here.

– Paul Gullixson