February 25th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
6 years ago

Analysis: Obama takes 'morning in America' mantle

President Obama takes a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook in his speech to Congress.
President Obama takes a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook in his speech to Congress.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama addressed Congress shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, but a casual viewer might have believed it was actually morning in America.

Watch: Obama lays out agenda

"Morning in America" was the theme of Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign, and it was front and center in Obama's most critical event since Inauguration Day.

The president who has pledged to reverse much of Reagan's economic revolution took a page from the 40th president's playbook in his 52-minute speech, striking a defiantly optimistic tone that belied the nation's sour mood and rebutted critics who have accused him of intentionally talking down the economy for short-term political gain.

"Though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," Obama declared to a thunderous round of applause from a packed House chamber.

Delivered against a backdrop of dismal economic news and with polls showing overwhelming majorities of Americans believing the country is on the wrong track, Obama's first speech to Congress amounted to a political tour de force. He proposed what many claim is a complete overhaul of the country's economic foundation while ripping his conservative predecessors for transferring "wealth to the wealthy" and gutting regulations "for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market."

And he did it while employing some of Reagan's favorite rhetorical tools. Obama stuck to a fairly short list of priorities while invoking traditional American values of responsibility, hard work and thrift to pound home a back-to-basics message.

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Filed under: Obama address
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. lou

    He hit all the right notes: Cut tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas...reform health care...scale back tax breaks for the top 2% of the wealthiest...becoming world leaders in technology to cut our dependence on oil. I especially loved his response to the auto industry crisis....'we invented the car, we won't let another country finish the chapter on making it more fuel efficient"

    February 25, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Karen- PROUD OF MY PRESIDENT

    I can honestly say, It's nice to have a President who understands.

    February 25, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. yaaba

    Great job Mr. President and the first lady look great.

    February 25, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. texas teacher

    Why am I surprised that there NO criticism of Reagan that can be tolerated! I do recall that Reagan was only President for the first four years of his office. The last years he was merely a shell suffering with Alzheimers! I would say that Nancy Reagan was no doubt the President in the last years!

    February 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. katiec

    Overwhelming majority thinking we are on the wrong track??
    Where did that come from as believe this was prior to the
    election of President Obama?
    CNN, will you please STOP constantly trying to discredit our
    President? Your party lost and now is the time to work towards
    our survival, not to continue your negativity and bias.

    February 25, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. texas teacher

    Thank you at least today for articles about Obama with images of OBAMA instead of Republicans. I am stunned that this article does not have an image of Reagan rather than Obama at the forefront! I am merely amazed that you seem to be unable to see that you are so biased to the GOP!

    February 25, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Scott, Tucson

    Yeah, we work hard and the government rips us off in taxes. Try eliminating the payroll tax deductions and let us, the American people stimulated the economy our way.

    And just how many hundred million dollars did Hillary promise WE will give to the Palestinian people on her recent overseas junket? If times are so tough right now that we all have to tighten out belts, than we sure the heck can't afford to continue one major Federal pig trough that is call Foreign Aid.

    February 25, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. JK Ashburn, VA

    You mean "mourning in America"? I am grieving the loss of fiscal sanity, individual responsibility, and the belief that hard work pays off instead of what he's offering - free medical care, free lunches, subsidized mortgages, subisidized car loans, etc. etc. etc.

    And the really frightenining part is the number of people - especially including the Obama Kool-Aid drinker on this blog - who actually believe this nonsense.

    February 25, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Bill

    The economic house of cards that has finally crumbled was built by Ronald Reagan and the "trickle down" economists. The economic boom of the '80's and '90's was an illusion, built by greed and govenment turning a blind eye! President Obama has NO choice but to fundamentally change the financial system with accountability as the first priority.

    February 25, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Barbara Campbell

    Republicans bought-and-paid-for by special interests made clear their agenda last night when they refused to applaud during sections of President Obama's speech. Of particular interest was the neocons' lack of response to remarks about renewable energy and independence from foreign oil. Exxon's presence was apparent.

    February 25, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. HeckSpawn

    Of course we're not on the Right track. We're on the LEFT TRACK! This supposedly "intelligent" president that thinks the automobile was invented here in the US is simply wrong.

    Then again, what can one expect from someone who is a product of Jimmy Carter's education system...

    February 25, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Sarie Paylin

    JK wants Bushee back!

    February 25, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Sarahs cheerleader

    Ronald Reagan was like the wizard of Oz,all bluster and no substance.He thought you could grow plants by just watering the leaves,while ignoring the roots,his famous trickle down theory didnt work then and wont ever work.He also was against every working American other than his rich friends.

    February 25, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. worriedmom

    JK, you couln't have said it better! These Kool-Aid drinkers need to dismantle their shrines and start looking at reality. Stop waiting on free handouts!!!

    February 25, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. a REAL American

    HAHAHA.... what a joke to actually compare Obama's speech to Reagan's message. Reagan's message was one of empowering PEOPLE, not government, to get our nation moving forward. Obama's underlying message is simple–"if you work hard and live right, your money will go to others who don't."

    February 25, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. REG in AZ

    Last night George Will made a statement that I think I quote accurately as, ‘President Obama wants to take it from the successful and give it to the unsuccessful’. When Republicans use narrow views such as that to criticize, yet they actually blindly and stubbornly supported the arrogant irresponsibility of Bush-Cheney, and then they advocate that they offer hope for the average American with having a real desire for bipartisan cooperation, as Bobby Jindal stated, yet they just follow a strong and united obstructionist policy that literally only faults, blocks and attempts to sabotage everything, they really instill no confidence and rather only generate contempt. It seems they always try to justify returning to more of the same concentration on Special Interests and a select few where they gave only apathy, the costs and an abundance of subterfuge to the many and that is totally unacceptable. Republicans now simply depend on rhetoric to deceive instead of deeds to believe.

    February 25, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. July

    BRIT HUME: "The speech read a lot better than it sounded. This was not Bobby Jindal's greatest oratorical moment."

    NINA EASTON: "The delivery was not exactly terrific."

    CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: "Jindal didn't have a chance. He follows Obama, who in making speeches, is in a league of his own. He's in a Reagan-esque league. ... [Jindal] tried the best he could."

    JUAN WILLIAMS: "It came off as amateurish, and even the tempo in which he spoke was sing-songy. He was telling stories that seemed very simplistic and almost childish.

    February 25, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. EAS

    JK Ashburn, VA February 25th, 2009 11:19 am ET

    You mean "mourning in America"? I am grieving the loss of fiscal sanity...
    ////////

    Are you also mourning the loss of fiscal sanity by Bush and the Republicans?

    Are you mourning the fact that Bush hid the true cost of the war? Unbelievable! Talk about insanity!

    I would rather see OUR money (taxpayers) spent on social programs important to the growth of our nation. Would you prefer that we feed everyone overseas and deny our nation's children a free lunch? Apparently so. If you are reflective of republicans as a whole it's no wonder the republican party is dying.

    February 25, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. obama-mama

    I wish all the non-believers and pessimists could be dropped off in a river somewhere. The majority of this country is not looking for a handout but because the previous administration ruined the economy a lot of people have lost jobs and need help. I don't wish anything bad on anybody but it seems the right wingers that are against everything our President stands for are not facing any tough times. You should be glad that you have jobs and a roof over your head. Some people don't at not fault of their own.

    February 25, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Lisa B - Florida

    Ronald Reagan was no Barack Obama. It is because of Reagan's policy of deregulation that was the beginning of the greed that caused this mess. Bush pushed us over the edge, but it all began with Reagan. And will someone please tell Limpball and Insanitty of Faux news fame: Reagan is DEAD. Thank you.

    February 25, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. janet, ohio

    Look up, Mr. President. WAY up! That's Ronald Reagan up there! You will have to work very hard to get there. Good luck!

    February 25, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. janet, ohio

    Look up, Mr President! That's Ronald Reagan up there! You will have to work very hard and change your position on basically everything before you get there. Good luck and Godspeed!

    February 25, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. Michael C. McHugh

    It's good for him to call it morning, even when it's really evening or twilight in America. Our high point was in the years 1945-70, but since then other Great Powers have been on the rise, and we are no longer strong enough to be a Superpower and boss the world around. Frankly, that's good for us and good for the world. For the first time since the 1940s, we are going to have to learn how to work and play well with others on a more equal basis, and rely more on international organizations and alliances to mask the fact that we are no longer a superpower and will have to retreat from many area.

    February 25, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Ghost

    Hmmm.....free medicare, free lunches, subsidized mortgages, subsidized car loans on one hand. Tax breaks for the wealthy on the other. Neither choice seems that appealing. However, since I didn't see much of the former in the gameplan, I guess that's moot.

    Kool-Aid drinkers? I guess that Rush cocktail has more kick to it. Cause many of you conservatives have apparently been downing it like you are at a keg party.

    Keep on guzzling......

    February 25, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Steph

    @JK Ashburn, VA
    I'm guessing that you didn't even listen to his speech last night.

    February 25, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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