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Lillian Cunningham

Lillian Cunningham

Lillian Cunningham is the editor of On Leadership at the Washington Post.

The president's State of the Union report card

The grades from our leadership panel average out to a B+ for the president's address. What grade would you give him? Add your own grade below, then read our leadership panel's report card.

Return to all panelist responses

By Lillian Cunningham

 |  January 26, 2011; 12:42 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I think the President has a good plan and like all things political, it is hard to execute. 535 people, the house and senate, are not going to see eye-to-eye. It is inhumanly possible. So, you compromise and fight for the best deal for everyone. This President is trying. Imagine where the country would be if there was a President McCain and Vice President Palin. Would we even have a United States of America left?

It takes time for sweeping changes, large policy shifts to take hold and produce the desired affect. We are seeing it in the markets, now we need to see it in innovation and education. The only way to overcome high jobless rates is to create and invest in new industries that create new jobs and opportunities.

President Clinton enjoyed the creation of new industries in the 90's, mobile phone technology, computers and the internet. And all three of these communities became interconnected spawning support industreis like internet service providers, wholesale computer retailers, services to support and repair computers, software developers/engineers, mobile phone providers, and e-commerce. The U.S. needs another wave like that, but this time, do it with a resource so it is sustained and creates jobs for years to come.

Posted by: ajackson3 | January 27, 2011 2:26 PM
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D. While he may have prevented this Great Bushed Recession from turning into the Second Great Depression, with the government corporate bailouts and stimulus spending, the unemplyment remains still way too high, home foreclosures continue, the Bush Wars continue, the Gitmo remains opened, and the rich continue to get richer while the rest get poorer. Ordinary Americans have not yet seen any major activity to be convinced that economy is really turning around for them. And his SOTU was just another nice, wishy-washy speech thick on form but thin on substance - not to mention downright contradictory, at times.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | January 27, 2011 1:52 PM
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Talk is cheap. Obama's actions say "run from all fights; no priniciple is beyond compromising." It's easy to get along if all you ever do is give up before every possible battle.

Posted by: dolph924 | January 27, 2011 12:54 PM
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The President has given some memorable speeches, on race before the election, in Cairo about the Muslim world, the Tucson tragedy and many others. This was not a great speech. Not even good. While saying, "we can do it all", the speech doesn't have the intellectual honesty to say 'how' in light of 9.6% unemployment, a growing deficit and increasing recognition(as he does throughout the speech when referencing China and South Korean successes)that the world has caught up in education and yes, job performance. The reality is that American business is booming in many sectors with record profits because those jobs can be done overseas for less money at the expense of American workers. Even the Gipper was better able than Obama to at least be 'sunny' in a "Sunny in America" kind of speech. Still, I'm one of those voters who will look at Obama and compare him to the sorry lot in the GOP, hold my nose and vote for him even after a bad speech like the state of the union. He's counting on that for his liberal base and even independents. Not sure he will convince many independents however, with no real specifics beyond riding more trains, having more high speed wireless and having 1 million electric cars by 2015. That's about all he offers in an economy much more challenged and in need of presidential leadership.

Posted by: JTFLORIDA | January 27, 2011 11:27 AM
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Although it might have been nice to hear more details on how the President planned to achieve what he is currently envisioning for the U.S., I thought his emphasis on the accomplishments of small businesses, our need to ensure that they can compete in a global economy, and other elements of his speech were outstanding.

I also liked the fact that he honored the citizen whose company did such marvelous work during the Chilean miner crisis and the single parent who is going back to school to gain new knowledge and skills in an emerging field. This not only will assist her as an individual to acquire highly marketable skills that could lead to a great job with good benefits, but she is also doing this to inspire her own children with respect to education. I thought it was great that the President wanted to honor her by inviting her to the State of the Union speech and mentioning her vision for her own family. A lovely gesture on the President's part.

This gave the rest of us concrete examples of ordinary Americans who are accomplishing extraordinary things. Awesome!

Posted by: PostReader2009 | January 27, 2011 11:16 AM
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President Obama demonstrated compassion, intelligence, and strength. The Republican Rebuttal (which one?) was hypocritical in that they failed to acknowledge the fact that we bled over 500,000 jobs in December 2008, and our state of decline was plummeting into a full-blown disaster, which this President steered us clear from. Instead they blamed him for a high unemployment rate - which would be at least twice as high if he hadn't worked so hard at taking their heads out of the economic toilet they found themselves in, in 2008. They failed to acknowledge that their strongarm tactics to obtain additional tax cuts and loopholes for billionaires just cost our country 400 billion dollars in lost revenue. Of course they couldn't address that because they are constantly proclaiming themselves the party of fiscal prudence. And they condemned "government healthcare" insurance, although not one of them has yet made the "symbolic gesture" of cancelling the government healthcare insurance they enjoy on our dime and going out and buying their own, private health insurance policies. Arlen Specter, who was in the Republican party for 44 years, referred to them as "cannibalistic" - he was too kind. The documentary "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story" shows what has become of the Republican party.

While Obama instilled hope, fortitude, and courage for our country, they instilled fear and resentment. I just wish more people had voted during the mid-terms, but unfortunately people don't vote during the mid-terms.

But they do vote during presidential elections, and I'm looking forward to 2012. In the meantime, while these venal hacks and John Birch Society lunatics insist on moving us backward, we will have to reserve our hope and strength for that time.

Posted by: jakrdy | January 27, 2011 7:11 AM
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F. He is a good speaker, but as the saying goes - Talk is cheap. The speech lacked substance. He did not really address how the budget will be balanced. So -1. He talked of energy independence but in the far future after he leaves office. Another -1. Yes we need education, but he assumes everyone has to go to college. Another -1. While he did mention the military, NATO has seen its day and we can not afford to police the world. Another -1.

Being a good orator does not demonstrate leadership. His speech lacked substance. Our country is in trouble yet he seems disassociated from it.

Posted by: SteveR1 | January 26, 2011 10:55 PM
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C. Obama is a great orator. But the two big themes of the speech were an Apollo-level investment in the future and freezing spending. I'm a Democrat and I wanted to like the speech. But I'm not impressed when the two big ideas are contradictory. Especially when the spending freeze will have a much bigger impact on government effectiveness than it will on the deficit.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | January 26, 2011 6:28 PM
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President Obama gave an outstanding speech and he cleary set the agenda for Congress. Now, we will get a chance to see if Congress is serious about helping America, or will they just continue the hate and bipartisan actions. It is time for Congress to punish Wall Street and the Banks for ruining our economy. The bank cartels have swindled taxpayers, investors and the government out of billions of dollars, and thrown millions of homeowners out into the streets. It is time for Congress to investigate and prosecute these crooks to the fullest.

Posted by: Xfactor | January 26, 2011 6:19 PM
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I rated the speech A+. His speech was thoughtful, inspiring, and intelligent. I liked his emphasis on American values, American dream, and the importance he gave to education and innovation.
He came across as a leader that leads.

Posted by: radheradhe | January 26, 2011 5:53 PM
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I see we are back on the path to high speed rail to solve all our problems along with the green jobs nonsense. Tell you what, get the price of a gallon of gasoline to $2.00 per gallon and watch the economy take off. Its time we cut off the middle east welfare for a product we can develop here and create jobs at the same time. Who'd of thunk it?

Posted by: elcigaro1 | January 26, 2011 5:24 PM
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I have a problem with "thematic" speeches. The speaker must have a credible track record and based on the last 2 years Pres. Obama has zero credibility with me. These were the same tired points made when he was "chief organizer" trying to mold a common approach. In the attemptmy take was he would say one thing and do another or even contradict himself in the same speech. It is humorous to me that all of a sudden the "Bush Tax Cut" has become one of Obama's stellar achievements. He still reminds me of the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy to ignore that man behind the curtains and listen to the wizard.

Posted by: fcrucian | January 26, 2011 3:51 PM
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@WWW2011GIBWASH

Thoughtful comment, but if you really want people to read it, turn off your caps-lock and learn how to use the Shift key.

Posted by: eeepc | January 26, 2011 3:11 PM
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I rated the speach a solid average C. I expect more concrete plans instead of just ideas. I am particularly disappointed that he did not seem to address any of his comments to "we the people". In fact, due to "security" protocol, "we the people" could not even get within a mile of the capitol. There is no longer even the illusion of participation and who knows how to fix that in the modern world.

Posted by: donnabell | January 26, 2011 3:11 PM
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Grade inflation comes to State of the Union Address review.
Only one panelist gave him the "average" grade. Obama gives great speech, but he should be trying to govern rather than continuing his campaigning.

Posted by: nadie1 | January 26, 2011 2:53 PM
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I THINK THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE ISSUES CONFRONTING THE UNITED STATES. THE PRESIDENT SEEMED ALERT AND FOCUSED IN HIS STATE OF THE UNION ADRESS. THE PRESIDENT APPEARED WELL GROOMED.THE US CONGRESS SEEMED PLEASED BY THE PRESIDENTS ADDRESS AND THE US CONGRESS SEEMED WILLING TO WORK WITH THE PRESIDENT. THE PRESIDENT SEEMED PROUD OF U.S. HERITAGE AND WAS PREPARED TO DISPLAY DYNAMIC LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS.THE PRESIDENT CAME ACCROSS CLEAN CUT AND THE PRESIDENT SEEMED TO ADVOCATE A BETTER CASE FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THE PRESIDENT SEEMED PREPARED TO EMBARK ON PLANS FOR A MORE UPBEAT NATIONAL BUDGET. AT THE MIDWAY POINT OF HIS FIRST TERM IN OFFICE THE PRESIDENT TRIED TO DRAW FROM HIS STRONG SUITES BEFORE THE 2012 ELECTION YEAR. THE PRESIDENT SEEMED TO WANT TO ACHIEVE MORE ON THE ISSUES HE PROMISED THE NATION IN HIS 2008 CAMPAIGN.THE PRESIDENT SHOWED HE IS CAPABLE OF BEING ON THE MOVE. THE PRESIDENT SHOWED THAT HE IS EAGER TO WANT TO WIN SUPPORT FOR KEY PROGRAMS IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS.THE PRESIDENT ADDRESS SHOWED THE SKILLS THAT GOT HIM HIS 2008 VICTORY AND SHOWED THE NATION HE PLANS TO BE HARD TO UNSEAT IN 2012 IN A BATTLE THAT COULD INCLUDE PALIN OR HUCKLEBE.THE PRESIDENT SEEMED EFFECTIVE AND THE PRESIDENT DEMONSTRATED CONFIDENCE IN HIS POLITICAL SKILLS.THE PRESIDENT SEEMED MORE CALCULATED.THE PRESIDENT WAS ABLE TO ILLUSTRATE A VISION FOR THE FUTURE IN HIS ADDRESS.THE SPEECH PREPARES THE NATION FOR AN INTERESTING NEXT TWO YEARS AS PRESIDENT OBAMA TRIES TO BRING KEY BUDGET BEFORE THE U.S.CONGRESS.THE PRESIDENT SEEMED CLOSE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND THE PRESIDENT LOOKED PREPARED TO WORK HARD TO DEFEND AMERICAN VALUES.THE PRESIDENT SEEMED SINCERE. THE PRSIDENT LOOKED LIKE HE WANTED FAST TRACK PROGRESS.

Posted by: WWW2011GIBWASH | January 26, 2011 2:38 PM
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Dollar in danger of collapse so Obama totally ignores the coming train wreck. He offers no solution to his huge deficits. He gets an F for his speech in my school.

Posted by: mascmen7 | January 26, 2011 1:17 PM
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