President Obama’s first address to Congress sparked reaction last week from AU’s students and expert analysts who are anxious to see how the new president will confront America’s challenges.
At least 52 million people watched Obama speak on television, according to The New York Times.
Obama outlined several aspects of his agenda, but mainly focused on how he plans to address America’s current economic crisis.
Here at AU - the campus Princeton Review ranked “most politically active” - students and faculty tuned in with high expectations for Obama.
“He had to address the gravity of the situation while also inspiring people to think what he’s proposing is going to work, and that the American people can do it,” said Jane Hall, a School of Communication professor and Fox News analyst.
Hall said she thought Obama’s speech was effective in this respect and observed that many in the national media shared her view.
“The commentary was more than fairly positive,” she said.
Sarah Verbofsky, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, praised the president’s address.
“I was very impressed,” she said.
Verbofsky said she specifically liked Obama’s defense of his economic stimulus package, which drew criticism from fiscal conservatives.
Tricia Haynes, a sophomore in SPA, said she was less satisfied with Obama’s speech.
She said she thought the president’s substance less impressive than his style.
Haynes said she applauded Obama’s continued message of hope.
“I think Americans really needed that,” but she also commented that the president’s address could have been more effective with policy specifics.
Hall said she also has reservations about the future of the economy.
“Many economists are saying we still don’t have the details of his banking plan and other aspects of his agenda,” she said.
Rebecca Blank, a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, expressed a more positive opinion of the president’s presentation when she appeared as a featured panelist for a panel held at the Brookings Institution Wednesday.
“I thought it was an amazingly complete speech in terms of laying out an economic agenda,” she said during the event.
Blank spoke alongside three other expert panelists, including Darrell West, vice president of Governance Studies at Brookings, who analyzed the political context of Obama’s speech.
West juxtaposed Obama’s message with that of Republicans, which he said he believes does not resonate with the American people at the present time.
“Obama is blessed with an unpopular predecessor and an opposition that is still trying to figure out what the appropriate strategy is,” he said.
The Brookings panelists panned the Republican response to Obama’s speech, delivered by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. At AU, some students expressed disappointment in his speech.
Bobby Trivett, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business and SPA, said he liked the substance of Jindal’s remarks but disliked the his style.
“He was not very exciting ... which causes most people to turn it off,” he said.