What's The Reaction To Obama's Speech?
ALEX COHEN, host:
From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Alex Cohen.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
And I'm Madeleine Brand.
COHEN: President Barack Obama delivered a 52-minute speech to a joint session of Congress last night, and it came as little surprise that the economy dominated his address.
(Soundbite of speech)
President BARACK OBAMA: It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It's the job you thought you'd retire from, but now have lost. The business you built your dreams upon that's now hanging by a thread, the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope.
COHEN: For more on last night's speech, we're joined now by NPR's White House correspondent, Don Gonyea. And Don, no one was shocked that the president spent most of his time talking about the economy, but I'm wondering if there was anything in the speech that that did catch you off-guard.
DON GONYEA: I don't think there were any big surprises. The big question going in was, would the president really do what he needed to do? Would we see - maybe the best way to put it is, would we see both President Obamas? Would we see the one who has been delivering very tough, very blunt, very direct talk about the crisis in the economy, too tough, some people say? Or would we see the one that we saw from the campaign who lifted people up with his soaring rhetoric? Would we see that message of hope, for lack of a better word, come through?
And I think we really did see a president balancing both of those things, starting with the tougher stuff, providing the conviction that the U.S. will pull through this and has the resources to do it.
COHEN: About halfway into the address, the president said dropping out of high school isn't just quitting on yourself but quitting on your country. It was surprising to me that in the midst of all these money talk comes this stay-in-school message.
GONYEA: I found that a really interesting passage in that speech last night. He talked a good deal about education and the need to train people and to make sure that schools are teaching kids what they need to learn. There has been a lot of talk about the next generation, about young people, when we look at the size of the deficit and debt that will be handed down to them.
But in that passage last night, the president seemed to be vesting young people in this fight as well. Basically he was saying, you know, you may be a kid, but you're needed, and you have something to work for, and we're going to need you to step up. And I found it a very interesting pitch. I'd never quite heard a president do that before.
COHEN: Don, it hasn't even been 24 hours but already the speech has been broken down and analyzed every which way. The New York Times Web site breaks down how many times he used the word "economy" compared to past presidential speeches. NPR just launched something called The Obama Tracker that charts every action the president takes. Do you have any sense that all these new forms of online analysis influences what the president says?
GONYEA: I don't know if it influences what he says, but they're doing this kind of analysis themselves. Everything is really kind of run through these kinds of tests. The trick is not to seem as though everything has been tested to death. And I think he managed to strike a conversational tone last night.
COHEN: NPR's White House correspondent Don Gonyea. Thanks so much, Don.
GONYEA: It's my pleasure.
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