1) Obama did seem to go out of his way to shred Paul Ryan's tax-cut, social-service-cut budget proposal for 2012. Which in my mind was the right thing to do. Ryan's budget is not brave: it panders HARD to the Far Right's need to destroy Medicare and Medicaid, and it attempts to add even MORE tax breaks to corporations already swimming in massive profit margins (just how much a burden are the taxes on them anymore?).
2) Obama still played the game being played in the Beltway (and owned by the Far Right): the idea that cutting the deficit is paramount, and not the need to focus on job creation (which could add to the deficits in the short term, but should reduce said deficits in the long term). So as a result, the possibility of more austerity measures (which ARE NOT WORKING in the European countries already playing this game) are there.
What the hell happened to discredit Keynesian economic policies at this time? There's no way the Austrian or Chicago schools of thought should remain this dominant, and you'd think after the massive catastrophes of the 2000s that the libertarians would be even more discredited than Keynesians.
3) I was not at all surprised that the Republicans and their media enablers and brown-nosers dismissed Obama's speech, or accused him of making "personal attacks" (which in Ryan's case could be truth). Outside of admitting he was born on Krypton and then resigning the Presidency to return to complete his Jedi training on Dagobah with Master Yoda, there is nothing Obama can do to convince the teabagger Far Right wingnuts (I know, redundancies) of anything.
4) The speech reads well, and Obama did a decent job presenting it. Most important, Obama seems to be drawing a line in the sand here: that he will not accept any further extensions of the Bush tax cuts for the extremely wealthy (the top two percent, the ones earning millions of dollars), for example. For the most part, this is Obama's opening salvo for his re-election campaign. But it's also a promise he made on camera and one he's going to have to stick to for the far left base - and the Democratic Party in general - to hang their hat on. It's kind of his Bush the Elder "Read My Lips" moment: if he fails to live up to the promise, if the Republican House gets him to back down again on what Obama promised this week, then Obama's support (which is decent but not overwhelming) fades.
And there's already two major battles just this year alone: the debt ceiling vote due in May/June and the Paul Ryan budget showdown. The budget issue is the easier of the two: The Democratic-led Senate is in decent position to insist on stopping the more harsh elements of the Ryan plan from passing the whole Congress. But the debt ceiling vote is different altogether: it can fail in the House if enough Republicans (and even some psycho Democrats) vote against raising the ceiling, and the whole system collapses. There's more at stake with the debt ceiling, more possibility that the House GOP will hold it hostage to negotiate for everything they want (including pony rides at the circus!). And even though Obama is calling on Democrats to insist on a "Clean" bill for the debt ceiling (meaning no deals with Republicans who will try to add their pet projects to it), this is too scary a situation to be playing chicken with the global economy.
The trick is making damn sure the Republicans swerve first. It's doable, especially since the latest vote on the overdue 2011 budget still couldn't pass with enough Republican votes (meaning Boehner is facing a sizable faction revolt... the same faction that's eager to vote against that debt ceiling...)
Obama's given his speech. He's made a good number of promises. But now he's got to live up to them...