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INSIDE WASHINGTON

Political Insiders Poll

Prominent bloggers on the left and right respond to these questions on NationalJournal.com.

Q: Grade President Obama's Inaugural Address.

Democrats (71 votes)

 
Average Grade = B+

e>

A   45 percent
B   52 percent
C    3 percent
D    0 percent
F    0 percent

e>

A

 

"Some may not have been lifted up as they have by earlier speeches, but it had a distinct difference from his campaign speeches. And I thought that was what he needed to do. We are at a difficult time in our history. He was spot-on."

"He didn't gloss anything, avoided soaring rhetoric, and instead was sober and profoundly honest about the past and future."

"While Bush must have been very uncomfortable, Obama owed the nation a forthright outline of where we are and what needs to be done. And that's certainly what we got."

"He spoke with confidence and as a president should, warning others to be cautious with their aggressions against us, but extending a hand to those who want peace. He was right on the mark to warn the American people that they must be patient."

 

B

"Strong and activist and sobering, but no quotable lines."

"President Obama's speech was good, but not great. The history of the event overwhelmed his speech. And that was inevitable."

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"The times and his need to lower the bar of expectations led him to deliver a somber, realistic address designed to remind us of how the American experience is a series of improbable and difficult triumphs of spirit over circumstances."

"He resisted the easy applause lines and framed the mess he inherited very succinctly. It may not go down as one of the all-time great speeches, and with Obama the bar is set very high, but it did what it had to do."

"Workmanlike by Obama's standards. Still, better than most can do."

"A strong, serious speech that laid the foundation for the tough decisions that he will ask the country to make."

C

"This was a surprisingly pedestrian effort. One can only conclude that he felt the need to temper all the celebration a bit, recognizing just how hard the times are thatlie immediately ahead."

Q: Grade President Obama's Inaugural Address.

Republicans (81 votes)

Average Grade = B

e>

A    27 percent
B    51 percent
C    20 percent
D     1 percent
F     1 percent

e>

A

"A deeply American speech that sought to transcend the divisions in American political life; a remarkably unifying address."

"Beautifully phrased and impeccably delivered. The rhetoric matched the history of the moment: optimistic and realistic and mature."

"He struck all the right chords and was surprisingly forceful in articulating America's resolve against terrorism and our enemies abroad."

B

"Didn't soar like others of his speeches. It was good and sent the right messages, but rhetoric stayed in check. What folks will remember is that the chief justice messed up the oath and threw our new president off."

"The man gives a good speech. He could read from the back of a cereal box and still score a C."

"The harder edges were what made it good, bad, and memorable. It was good because it showed a more muscular, substantive side. It was bad because it was too partisan for someone supposedly above partisanship. And it was memorable because it was a departure from previous fluffery."

"Well delivered, but a little too much lecture. 'Put away our childish things' was a bit much."

"Those of us who favor limited government have been warned."

C

"Typically eloquent, but rife with partisan shots at President Bush and lacking in details about what, exactly, he is going to do."

"Not very inspiring, given the moment in history and the opportunity."

D

"He wasted a great opportunity."

F

"Obama flubbed the only thing at which he is known to be successful: his speech."

Q: On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being very important), how important is it politically for President Obama to win approval this year of the following?

Democrats (70 votes)

Comprehensive health care reform   3.4
Economic stimulus package          4.9
Financial re-regulation            3.7
Major energy program               3.4

e>

Comprehensive health care reform

5. "He must do something that covers everyone, and this is it. A delay this year will doom chances in his first term."

4. "Needs serious movement, but may not get the whole enchilada."

2. "Not critical with the economic crisis going on today."

1. "Plate can only hold so much food."

Economic stimulus package

5. "It is critical that this happen in the first two months."

5. "Obama needs to get some improvement on the economic climate. And people will be patient with the rest."

Financial re-regulation

5. "Goes hand in hand with the stimulus."

4. "We must restore confidence that in an 'era of responsibility' the government gets it."

3. "Needed for Americans to have confidence in the system."

2. "Folks won't care as long as the economy is performing."

Major energy program

5. "Best way to remake and transform the country."

4. "A jobs creator and should be part of economic recovery."

3. "All the 'must-dos' in year one are those policies that give an immediate boost to the economy. Most of the Obama energy program is designed for longer-term economic benefits and impact."

Q: On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being very important), how important is it politically for President Obama to win approval this year of the following?

Republicans (87 votes)

Comprehensive health care reform  2.6
Economic stimulus package         4.5
Financial re-regulation           3.2
Major energy program              3.1

e>

Comprehensive health care reform

4. "There is only one honeymoon. Obama needs to make the most of it. If you wait, you may never get it."

2. "He will get SCHIP. That is enough for this year."

2. "No miracle cures: This one really is the long, hard slog."

1. "Rushing something through will hurt him in the long run."

Economic stimulus package

5. "This could be the Titanic that sinks Obama's credibility if it is not done quickly and in the right way."

5. "The state of the economy will define his presidency."

Financial re-regulation

4. "Key to returning Main Street's confidence in the markets."

4. "Obama blamed Bush for Wall Street excesses. Now he has to deliver."

2. "It's not needed. And Obama should try to stop it."

2. "If banks lend again, that's enough."

Major energy program

4. "His vision of balancing a 'green economy' with energy independence is [the] mantra for the Left."

3. "Low gas prices have cooled some of the passion for this."

2. "Unless gas prices spike like they did last summer, he's got time."

This article appears in the January 24, 2009 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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