“Enshrined in the mythology of the American presidency, there is something called a moment speech, an address to the nation so forceful and eloquent that it changes the way the country feels about its leadership and even itself…

“But a moment speech is less about the speech than it is about the moment. And as interviews with political historians and citizens around the country on Thursday made clear, Mr. Obama was approaching the lectern in a moment that offered more obstacles that opportunities for bringing about real change…

“‘It’s just illusory to think that presidents can provide a narrative that can make unemployment sound acceptable,’ said George C. Edwards, a professor of political science at Texas A & M University and author of ‘On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit.'”

“President Barack Obama’s promise Thursday that everything in his jobs plan will be paid for rests on highly iffy propositions

“Obama did not spell out exactly how he would pay for the measures contained in his nearly $450 billion American Jobs Act, but said he would send his proposed specifics in a week to the new congressional supercommittee charged with finding budget savings. White House aides suggested that new deficit spending in the near-term to try to promote job creation would be paid for in the future – the ‘out years,’ in legislative jargon – but they did not specify what would be cut or what revenues they would use.

“Essentially, the jobs plan is an IOU from a president and lawmakers who may not even be in office down the road when the bills come due. Today’s Congress cannot bind a later one for future spending. A future Congress could simply reverse it…

“So there is no guarantee that programs that clearly will increase annual deficits in the near term will be paid for in the long term.”

“Thursday night the president gave one of the most forceful and compelling domestic policy speeches of his presidency. His proposals were drawn from the middle of the ideological spectrum and were selected to appeal to people who don’t put a lot of faith in government spending. There’s a payroll tax cut, a small business tax cut, infrastructure spending, subsidies so states don’t have to lay off cops, firefighters and teachers, and a plan to use unemployment insurance to subsidize temporary work for the unemployed to get them back involved in the labor force.

“Republicans have supported most of these ideas at one time or another. Still, let’s not sugarcoat things. Recent stimulus packages have not exactly lived up to the hype. Temporary tax cuts generally don’t lead to much job creation. Given the long lead times involved, infrastructure spending is an odd way to combat a double dip that might be starting right now. Job subsidies often go to companies that would have hired the people anyway. One recent study showed that a plurality of the people hired under the last stimulus package already had jobs; they were just switching from one to another…

“Personally, my bottom line is this: I think the president has earned a second date. He’s put together a moderate set of stimulus ideas. His plan may not be enough to jolt prosperity, but it might maintain its current slow growth.”

“Henry Juszkiewicz, the chief executive officer of Gibson Guitar Corp., tells National Review Online that President Obama, a ‘big liberal,’ has done ‘untold damage to business’ and should not be applauded for his jobs speech. ‘He’s a government fan,’ he says. ‘He has a problem with successful businesses. He thinks they’re the problem, that they shouldn’t be quite as successful.’…

“‘We’re under attack,’ Juskiewicz says. ‘It’s pretty interesting to see that one of the points in Obama’s speech was to cut back regulationand promote jobs, when, in fact, he’s done just the opposite with us. We have been under investigation and harrasment for over two years and that continues on — seized goods, shut down our plant.'”

“President Obama’s jobs speech was one of the weaker addresses of his presidency. The delivery was rushed, the laundry list of policies were rehashed from prior speeches and his constant refrain emploring Congress to ‘pass this jobs bill’ made him come across like a salesman on a TV infomercial. While that may have worked in February 2009 when he was at the height of his popularity, the subsequent failure of the stimulus legislation has damaged his credibility.

“The plan would cost about $450 billion, and he promises that it will be fully paid for — though he hasn’t told us how just yet…

“Overall, it’s hard to see this obvious use of a joint session of Congress to deliver a campaign speech moving the dial for Obama, beyond exciting liberals who have called for a more confrontational tone with the Republican House, less focus on deficits and more stimulus spending.”

“a) His speaking style has deteriorated since taking office. He’s phonier than in 2008, reading with forced emphasis. At times he achieved the rare, magical combination of seeming desperate and condescending at the same time.

“b) The ‘people who sent us here – the people who hired us to work for them – they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months.’ Why not just ‘we’ don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months? Why assume the disconnect–e.g. that he and the others in the room aren’t ‘living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day’? It puts distance (condescending distance!) between Obama and the TV audience. It’s not even true. I would venture to say that most of the people in the room, and Obama himself, know someone who is living ‘week to to week, paycheck to paycheck.'”

“This was a startling, feisty, combative and, in a way, commanding president that has rarely been seen on the stage in Washington. Something about being in the lion’s den — and staring straight at the GOP leadership — seemed to invigorate him…

“Liberals are entitled to wonder if his passionate defense of labor organizing rights, worker safety laws and the like were a case of protesting too much. But he put a passion into his remarks that he has rarely shown in public in his presidency, or even on the campaign trail.

“Friends and foes alike had to wonder watching him tonight: where has that Barack Obama been? The other question, of course, is: Why did it take so long for ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Barry’ (as Chris Matthews christened him) to appear? And the last question: Is it too late, either to do anything for the economy, or for his own chances?”

“We waited 30 months for this?”

Via Andrew Stiles.