My initial reaction after watching Obama address the nation over the BP Gulf spill last night seemed to be similar to many others -- right idea, lacking details or depth. It seems that there's been a nationwide shrug in response to the speech, at least among the punditry, political leaders, green groups, and writers that have shaped the narrative so far. So what do you think? Did the talk of needing to end our dependence on oil hit the right notes? Or was it all fluff and no filler?A few commenters on my response post said that I was being to harsh on Obama -- that he's moving the conversation into unprecedented territory, and that it's a thankless task. That sentiment is correct in many ways, but presidents have been calling for a need to end our dependence on oil at least since the Carter administration. It's my view that though the rhetoric was right on, and successfully addressed the need to move towards cleaner energies, more specific ideas were needed if the speech was to truly resonate, to actually kick the transition to alternatives into high gear -- and to truly start cutting our oil dependence in a meaningful way.
And many agree with me. Kate Shepperd of Mother Jones wrote:
He at least hit the right notes on clean energy ... But what his speech lacked was specific directives, which is what the Senate needs at this point. There wasn't even a clear call for a carbon cap, which I fear all but dooms its chances this year.Many pundits and journalists, among them Keith Olberman and Ezra Klein, agreed that it lacked specifics as well. For a great consensus of the varying opinions, see this Huffpo synopsis.
Many wanted a clearer outline of how his calls for cleaner energy translate into actual policy, or at least a hint of if and how Obama plans to move clean energy onto his agenda
Democratic leaders voiced support for it, as was to be expected, and Republican leaders just seemed a little annoyed, which was also to be expected. Residents of the Gulf were mixed, though many were reported to be reassured. So the question is, what did everyone else think of it? Did the appeals to wean our nation off of oil ring true? Did you want to hear more concrete ideas about how that would be done? Do you think he should have pushed harder for clean energy? Do you think the conversation is heading in the right direction?
I'm curious to know -- if you haven't watched it, you can do so above. Or you can read the full text of the speech here.