The Times led Wednesday with a story on Obama's 18-minute oil spill speech from the Oval Office, accompanied by Peter Baker's more admiring "news analysis," "On 56th Day, Call to Arms." Baker admired the president's military spirit:
While laying out his "battle plan" to break "this siege" from a spill "assaulting our shores," the commander in chief hoped to pivot from defense to offense, using the still-unresolved crisis in the Gulf of Mexico to press for sweeping change in energy policy. Evoking the spirit and language of predecessors who used the same setting to send troops into harm's way, Mr. Obama cast the effort to cap a well as part of the American determination to shape its own destiny.
"The one approach I will not accept is inaction," Mr. Obama said from behind the presidential desk named Resolute with the traditional flags in the background. "The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet."
In his first use of the trappings of the office, Mr. Obama seemed at ease and filled the screen, as political professionals put it. While not projecting Reagan's fatherly folksiness or Bill Clinton's feel-your-pain empathy, or even reaching the rhetorical flourishes of his own most famous speeches, Mr. Obama came across as confident and presidential, curbing his natural instincts for professorial lecturing (if not the constant hand gesturing, which proved distracting on television).
Media reporter Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post had a more mixed review, noting that this late in the crisis, the president "looked like he was playing catchup," while the leftist hosts on MSNBC panned Obama's performance as vague and passive.
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