Quickly, here are my six immediate impressions following President Obama's first speech in front of a joint session of congress and the Republican response delivered by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:
1) The three themes of the speech were hope, shared sacrifice and responsibility from government and society.
2) As with his inauguration speech, even as the president sought to reassure Americans better days were ahead, he reiterated we as a society could no longer live beyond our means.
3) With respect to the banking and credit crisis currently stoking populist outrage, Obama forthrightly told the nation he would not govern out of anger or make policy based upon Wall Street's daily high or lows. Readers of this blog already know my feelings about this subject.
4) This president clearly intends to spend his political capital before it evaporates on big ticket items such as health-care.
5) Obama's words and presence illustrated why I personally admire him but the substance of his administration's soon to be released budget are more important than this single speech. I still get a clinical thrill from observing how Obama's speeches impact others but I want to read the fine print of his budget proposal.
6) If Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is the best the Republican's Party has to offer, they may go the way of the Whigs from Abraham Lincoln's era. The GOP is intellectually and morally bankrupt. This is unfortunate, because it's never good when one party is left to debate with itself. Politics works best when it's a vigorous competition within the marketplace of ideas. As the Republican Party only offers a failed ideology, the real policy debate is among the left like myself and centrist Democrats. Both sides are competing for Obama's attention and favor while Republicans are imploding from ossified titans such as John McCain and pitiful lite weights like Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin.