Finally, President Barack Obama seems to have understood that sweet reasonableness is not enough. In the face of Republican intransigence, and ten months of fighting on their turf, he turned the focus back to his own agenda last night and challenged the Congress in ways that will force them to act or to bear the consequences. And, there was a flash of fire in his eyes and in his tone that is welcome indeed.
Obama’s speech to Congress last night was arguably his best since the campaign in 2008 in political terms. There was no soaring rhetoric, no turn of phrase that sticks in the mind beyond the repetition of the dull words, “And you should pass it now!” But, he did something – better to say he started to do something – that he has been unable to do all year. He defined a fight with the GOP on his turf not theirs and did so in a way that any obstruction on their part may prove politically costly.