February 24th, 2009
11:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Gergen: Speech gets an A, but the rhetoric didn't soar

(CNN) - For political impact, the President deserves a strong A for his speech tonight - it was inspiring, spoke to the chief concerns most Americans appear to have about his economic program, and explained the bailouts for banks and autos in terms that were very understandable.

It was also the most ambitious speech that we have heard from a President in decades - the first half sounded like FDR fighting for the New Deal, the second half, Lyndon Johnson fighting for the Great Society. Rhetorically, I thought the speech was a B - it had very little music. Clearly, as he himself said, he wanted to speak plainly and until near the end, he avoided soaring language. In short, I don't think it will find its way into an anthology of great speeches, but it will serve the President extremely well with the public.

Filed under: Obama address
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. P. D.

    Didn't soar? What speech were you watching?

    February 24, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  2. T

    I agree... perfect speech!!!!!

    February 24, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  3. bk

    We would not expect for CNN to give Obama anything but an A since they got him elected.

    February 24, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  4. Sue - Missouri

    Bobby Jindal speech was pathetic! The repug's need to find a real leader and the ones they have chosen will keep the dem's control for over 8 years. Just Pathetic!

    Mr. President – Wonderful and I'm even inspired to do my part. My family have started thinking about our bad decisions and we are now turning things around for the sake of our family and the US. Independent voter but now I truly wished I had voted for you. You have definitely done more in 30 days than any other POTUS before U. Good Luck and thanks for being the President for the PEOPLE!

    February 24, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  5. K. Kaminsky

    Republicans want bi-partisianship but I feel that the President has more than extended his hand across the other side of the aisle.
    By the look on the republicans faces of cynicalizm and the republicans response to the Presidents speech, the republicans have not extended their hand an inch.
    They need to put aside their personal ideology and old school thinking and do what is right for this country-help the ordinary people get back their dreams which get crushed so many times.

    February 24, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  6. peter

    you are the onr Gergen I thought the president did the excellent job excpet Borger who think the president should be given the solid B which is to me.

    February 24, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  7. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    Obama scores a "A" Jindal scores a "F".

    February 24, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  8. Bob

    The speech was exactly what it needed to be which was not talking over the head of American people. We are really tired of people playing games with our mind. Now we are tuned into what is going on with the government and the people are taking a more active role. We know the details of how to overcome some of this deficit when the real numbers are shown. You have to realize no one has ever shown us the real numbers.

    February 24, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  9. Irving, TX

    Awesome, Awesome Mr. President....I am so proud of you.... Repubs you know it was awesome

    February 24, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  10. Jon Epps

    It is unlikely that anyone disagrees with the staement that both the President and the Govenor made tonight. "Americans can do anything". What is equally unlikely is that bipartisanship will not happen; the players are too vested in their ptower. The common love of America seem to be trumped by the love of power. Imagine what could happen if there was true bipartisanship.

    February 24, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. sarah

    I love you David Gergen, but every speech obama gives must not soar.

    There is a time and place for that. He will give a huge inspirational speech a few months from now to the ppl not CONGRESS.

    but in general if every speech obama gives is suppose to be inspirational or go into the history books as one of the greatest ...then none of them will.

    time and place for everything. u dont get a country completely riled up by talking in congress... u go to the ppl themselves. however he did do some of that tonite.

    February 24, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  12. Linda M, NC

    I was disappointed that he did not announce removal of the "cap" on Social Security. We need to remove that cap. I'm also disappointed there wasn't much on Veteran's Health Benefits and the backlog that is keeping my husband, a Vietnam Vet from getting any answers for at least a year! He could not tell them "wait a year" when ordered to Vietnam!

    February 24, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  13. KLM

    Maybe Gergen would like to get his old behind up there and do better since he seems to think his suggestions are always the right one. Maybe he should've run for office then.

    February 24, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  14. Muffet

    My my my. Give the President a break David! I didn't fall asleep. I actually listened and clearly understood what the President was conveying. After the previous eight years of Bush speeches (paragraphs) this is extremely refreshing!

    February 24, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. Tim, Seattle WA

    I thought he had a great moment when he cited the fact that the China is taking the lead in new energy and that we have fallen behind in Solar energy as well.
    The remark about building plug in hybrids but still having a Korean battery was well received in my household.

    It was refreshing to hear us be challenged to regain our compettitive edge again with opportunities in green energy and manufacturing making it possible.
    I feel good tonite and hopeful.

    More than anything, I want to 'do'

    February 24, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  16. Ndidi Ihezue

    NOw America has a statesman equal to the task at hand.
    I love this country.

    February 24, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  17. Richard Frank

    I thought it was very impressive. He put forth a lot of benchmarks to be measured up to. He did come through with some needed optimisim and gave an invigorating approach as opposed to the hogwash we usually get from politicians.

    February 24, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  18. Obama 2.0

    I will take curry sauce on them crawdaddys please!

    February 24, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  19. Mia

    All I heard was blah, blah, blah! He's diminishing our Hope! Us little people who live paycheck to paycheck working for the government for $35k or less a year aren't even mentioned.

    February 24, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  20. sherryscoobydoo

    i think he did well.

    i'm wanting to see congress actually do as well.
    no vote of confidence in congress let alone my own that was sent there.

    February 24, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  21. xargaw

    By now we all know that Obama is a gifted speaker. But the contrast to Bush43 is staggering. It is not just that he is an accomplished orator, he comes across as highly intelligent, forward thinking, practical and just plain smart. The more we know of Obama, the worse Bush is remembered, if that is possible.

    February 24, 2009 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. Ricky

    You media types are something else...If his rhetoric soars, it is unrealistc and airy fairy – If it serves the president extremely well with the public, then it does not soar....For this Partial Observer, It both soared & scored! And many feel as I do! Way To Go Mr. President!

    February 24, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  23. Lisa

    Obama cannot stare into the American Publics eyes- he is a LIAR!
    He should be Impeached!

    February 24, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  24. Kathy

    He can read well... but no substance.. all talk... no action.

    February 24, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  25. Lauren

    Gov. Bobby Jindal's Speech:

    ~clears throat~

    Hello boys and girls of America. My name is Bobby Jindal and I'm gonna tell you a story. You ready? Here goes. Once upon a time, a big bad hurricane named Katrina hit a state called Louisiana. A deputy was steaming mad cause folks said boats couldn't come. But, gee golly, we fixed them. (Insert laughter). That's exactly why we can't support this American reinvestment act.

    Unlike the president Obama–a president whom we're all proud of–a president born of a Kenyan father and a white woman; I don't believe our economy will burn in the flames of hell. Instead, I believe we will all live happily ever after.

    Gov. Jindal's speech speech was amazingly condescending and sophomoric. If he's Obama's competition in 2012, the comedians will have a field day.

    February 24, 2009 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
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