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Obama’s Oval Office Address: Did it Help?

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[Image: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

President Obama gave the first Oval Office address of his presidency last night, to speak about the Gulf Coast oil spill and the administration’s plan moving forward.

In the address, Obama said the government will fight the spill, “with everything we’ve got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.”

Last night and into this morning, observers from both the left and the right voiced opinions.


“I thought the speech was five minutes too long,” said Don Goldberg, partner at D.C.-based Qorvis Communications and former Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton in a phone interview with PRNewser this morning. “The speech was OK. It hit the point he probably needed to hit. Clearly some on Democratic side wanted him to be more forceful, but he still has to realistic about energy policy and what he needs to achieve,” he said.

Environmental organizations seem to be pleased with Obama’s push for clean energy and new energy legislation. “I thought the president hit a homerun tonight,” Dan Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy told The New York Times.

The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein said on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” “The one big thing you could see here was an echo of the health care rhetoric: that inaction’s too costly, and he won’t accept failure and he’ll listen to other solutions as long as they solve the problem. But he didn’t say what the problem was and he didn’t say what success would be. And so, it’s very hard to say what the follow through on the speech will be.”

The Republican talking points are that Obama is “exploiting” the oil spill to push forward a new energy bill and other initiatives.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence said yesterday, “The American people expect that this Administration will not use this opportunity to advance their liberal agenda.”

Why now?

The question has been asked countless times over the last few weeks in regards to the administration’s response and public posturing. Why now? Is it too little too late?

“In the first couple of weeks of the spill, The White House didn’t recognize that this would linger for 60 to 90 days,” said Goldberg.

“They thought in two weeks the well would be shut down. The calculation was if you get too close to it — it’s the [Colin] Powell doctrine — you break it, you own it. The problem with that calculation is it turned out to be wrong. I don’t think that was a bad gamble on their part, but when you roll the dice and you lose, you lose.”

In the video below, administration senior adviser David Axelrod speaks with the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer about the address.

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