The president offered a tone of cheerful nationalism, celebrating everything that’s great about America, with no hint of the “fundamental transformation” he once promised. The substance of the speech was almost non-existent other than a series of rehashes and meaningless gestures. But the good news was that vacuousness isn’t scary. Two jarring notes: first, the president’s “Morning in America” riff (“somewhere in the Midwest, there’s a really nice girl who’s getting straight A’s and serving as a cheerleader for her state championship football team”) seemed to contradict the sour, anxious mood of the country reflected in every poll. Second, the exploitation of truly heroic wounded warrior Cory Remsburg, who was there in the gallery, as a symbol of a recovering nation was doubtless effective but shamelessly demonstrated Mr. Obama’s utter desperation to provide a rousing conclusion for his windy, underwhelming speech.
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