I'm just going to begin with my main thought: this was one of President Obama's strongest speeches. The militaristic metaphors, nationalist statements, and firm tone portrayed him as a strong leader and demonstrated a president who (at least on the surface) is confident that he has a winning message. Three quick things that really struck me:
1) Veiled micro-targeting in a very broad, universalist speech.
President Obama clearly understands that if he is to win in November, he needs the support of his base. When he moved to the more "policy-focused" section of his speech, he began by speaking to the working class Americans--who have traditionally supported the Democrats--by calling for a reinvestment in American manufacturing and training programs for the unemployed. He then moved to teachers, saying that they need help, should not be forced to teach to a test, and should not be the scapegoats for what many people see as an underperforming educational system (trust me--as the son of a teacher, this is a big deal). He spoke to college students by promising to lower loan payments and increase work-study programs. He spoke to Latinos by calling for the passage of the DREAM Act. He spoke to women by calling for equal pay and the end of gender discrimination in the workplace. He spoke to Jews with his promise of "ironclad commitment--and I mean ironclad commitment--to Israel's security." This was a rally-the-base speech designed to not sound super campaigny.
2) The Closing. It was an incredible metaphor. The full text is available here. Just read the last few paragraphs. His speech writer needs a raise for that one. Very impressive.
3) He finally gave a laundry list of accomplishments, communicating the successes of his administration effectively for the first time. A huge criticism (that Republicans are now beginning to feast on) of President Obama is that he hasn't done anything--except ObamaCare. GRRRR! The president began with accomplishments that have received universal support--ending the war in Iraq, killing Osama Bin Laden. But he also discussed financial regulations, health care, immigration, energy, and manufacturing policies his administration has been instrumental in passing. Put together, it sounds like a lot.
What did you all think of the speech? How big of a boost (or fall) will it net him?