Chris Cillizza, of the Washington Post was more pragmatic about the speech:
President Barack Obama sought to seize control of the political storm caused by the Gulf Coast oil spill with an Oval Office speech Tuesday night, an aggressive address that was greeted with mixed reactions from the chattering class.
Obama’s overall message was simple: BP will pay — and pay dearly. “We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,” Obama said at one point. Later, Obama said that he would tell BP chief executive Tony Hayward in their planned meeting Wednesday that the company must “set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness.”
Polling suggests that turning BP into the enemy, which the White House spent most of last week doing, is a sound strategy. In Gallup polling released late Tuesday, 75 percent of respondents put a “great deal” of blame for the spill on BP, while 44 percent said the same of the federal agencies tasked with overseeing offshore drilling.
Gallup data also showed that most Americans wanted more tough talk out of the president. More than seven in 10 (71 percent) of those queried said Obama had not been tough enough in dealing with BP, while just 3 percent said he had been too tough.
It remains to be seen whether Obama’s speech, which was the culmination of a two-day trip to the Gulf region, will fundamentally alter public opinion about his administration’s handling of the oil spill, which–to date–has been decidedly negative.
But, in bashing BP while also pushing hard for a comprehensive energy package to be passed through Congress, Obama and his senior advisers are hoping to show the public that they are back on offense on the issue.