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The Rundown

8 a.m. ET: In the hours leading up to President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress last night, most analysts agreed that he needed to serve the nation a heaping helping of hope after a bit too much "straight talk" in the first five weeks of his presidency. Well, hope is what we got, though leavened with a still-stark portrayal of the state of the economy.

Obama's thematic return to campaign form should not have been surprising. The iconic poster, after all, does not say "Dread" or "Fear." Obama spent the evening, as Janet Hook put it, figuring out "how to balance warnings of dire circumstances against the need to inspire confidence." Peter Baker observed that it's a good thing Obama didn't have to say "the state of the union is strong," because it isn't. And the Associated Press linked the speech to Franklin Roosevelt's first fireside chat 66 years ago, an address that also sought to reassure the nation during a banking crisis.

Hope isn't the only campaign relic that made a return last night; we've also got insta-polls! CNN's late-night survey found a whopping 92 percent of respondents reacted positively to the speech, though the network cautioned that the viewing audience skewed more Democratic than the general public because members of the party were especially eager to see the president they supported. And, as CNN's polling director pointed out, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush scored roughly as well in their first addresses to Congress. CBS News' instant survey was similarly positive, showing that approval of Obama's economic plans went up significantly during the speech.

The response to the official responder, Bobby Jindal, was, to put it charitably, less positive. It's never a good sign when much of the blogosphere spends the evening discussing your similarities to a super-goofy character on a sitcom. It's always hard to deliver a speech to a camera alone in a room after the president has spoken to a packed House chamber that frequently interrupts him with applause. Even so, Jindal's delivery was almost universally panned. And what about that backdrop, in front of a big spiral staircase? Yes, he's the governor, but now might not be the right time to give a speech that says, "I know times are tough. By the way, I live in a mansion."

In non-joint address news, the lead story is Obama's reportedly nearing a decision to order nearly all American troops out of Iraq by August 2010. The announcement is expected to come Friday in North Carolina, something Vice President Biden appeared to confirm this morning on "The Today Show," saying, "We're keeping a campaign commitment." Hilda Solis, meanwhile, is now officially the secretary of Labor, and Gary Locke will be Commerce secretary (assuming he pays his taxes). And Roland Burris isn't resigning. Yet.

Back to that theme of hope. Want to see a positive economic sign? Try looking at K Street, where, The Hill reports, "business seems to be booming." A new, activist administration plus the largest spending bill ever equals plenty of new contracts for the influence-peddling industry even though the major corporations that hire lobbyists and fund trade associations are tightening their belts in nearly every other way. The newspaper business, meanwhile, is still struggling. Did The Rundown pick the wrong profession? Discuss in the comments section below.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 25, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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We DO torture.

With silent radiation weaponry...

...approved by the Bush Justice Department for covert "use" on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens deemed "undesirables" or "dissidents."

Please read these articles. Then BAN radiation weaponry, the hand-held moral equivalent of the atom bomb. (Start by banning it from your White House detail.)



OR (if links are corrupted/disabled):


Posted by: scrivener50 | February 25, 2009 10:24 AM

AXELROD writes very good teleprompter speeches for Obama to read..a puppet master and his tool?

He leaves out all the bad parts, like the cost of the lie about the 27 civilians killed in the drone missile attack last Tuesday---everyone knows, they have no rights to sue the U.S. Government in a wrongful death lawsuit; you have to get into GITMO to do that....where are those pesky human rights lawyers when you need them.

Question...after listening to Axelrod on meet the press repeat word for word the exact sound bites Obama used in earlier speeches I suddenly realized who was the tool and who was the puppet master!

Posted by: poppadata | February 25, 2009 4:22 PM

Only question is will Tom and Katy Cruise adopt Bobby Jindal as a religion.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | February 25, 2009 7:06 PM

President Obama received positive response to his speech and Jindal was a thumbs down. What a stunner, the press has been gushing over President Obama for over two years. I used to believe the press was unbiased, talk about naive.
I am totally disillusioned with President Obama's performance. His spending makes me anxious, his poor vetting prompted me to believe he made deals with established politicans to advance and debunk Hilary Cllinton. President Obama promised NO lobbyists and he invited 2 Lobbyist to his cabinet and he uses negative, threatening tones when speaking to the citizens. President Obama does not permit Democracy to work when he presents a Trillion Dollar Stimulus Bill to Congress at 12 midnight and expects a vote nine hours later, despite the fact it was MIDNIGHT and our less than ambitious officials must read 1100 pages. There was no time to debate or negoiate. I believed once George Bush was out of office things would change. The voice of the people would be heard and respected. Everytime President Obama speaks its "I", "I", "I", very dictatorial. Rare does he say "we". I am not going to take it anymore, I will write daily to EVERYONE, try to help people awaken and take responsibility for the bad behavior of Washington. In my 56 years I never missed a voting opportunity and after I voted, I was totally ignorant to the votes, bills, whatever. George Bush and Iraq War woke me up and I will never accept anything blindly. I want to read the bills and will demand whomever I vote for to be responsible and honorable. I have trying to find the Stimulus Bill, I Google and no luck. Maybe Hannity knows...Who would of ever believed an old hippie as myself would trust Hannity more than anyone else.

Posted by: virgosiempre | February 25, 2009 10:15 PM

All I can say about Obama is "beware of wolves in sheeps clothing"....also, sign up with the new group forming around the country to protest Obama and the dem controlled House and Senate for bankrupting this country...it is called "The New American Tea Party"...there are groups all around the country forming.....it's time we speak up before it's too late!!!!!

Posted by: mhallan | February 26, 2009 9:39 AM

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