Last night gave Barack Obama a rare uncontested moment in the spotlight, and his task was largely, as Monica said below, to use it to remind American voters just why they voted for him in the first place. For the many Americans who didn't vote for him, he had an opportunity to remind many of them why they once liked the style of his politics, if not the substance.
Of course, last night saw recommendations from those like Andrea Mitchell, in her pre-game show, for Obama to indulge in the "bipartisanship" that Americans supposedly so desperately crave after a long and largely miserable 2009. Obama ignored the advice; after all, the ability to find spiritual unity with this set of congressional Republicans was not what got him elected. Instead, there were hints that President Obama was finally going back to the well of creative political thinking that Candidate Obama had drawn from and that people of a wide range of political stripes seemed to once respond to. This section in particular, on climate change, jumped out:
I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -- because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.
That's not bipartisanship (though, that "overwhelming scientific evidence" jab did get laughs from both Democrats and even some Republicans). You can argue about the wisdom of giving climate change doubts that much room to breathe. But Obama here is taking a creative stab at giving Senate and, even more so, House Republicans a chance to get behind the outcome that America by broad consensus needs to get to -- better energy technologies -- while giving them another path by which to get there. And he did it without indulging in the idea that what Americans really want is for their political leaders to get along. What they want is their political leaders to get things done.
-- Nancy Scola