Obama returns to oratorical form—at least for one night

Tuesday’s State of the Union harkened back to the early days of the administration when the president was king of the stump.

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If you didn’t know better, you would’ve sworn this was the most popular, most successful president in the history of the republic—not a failing, on-the-ropes, washed-out incumbent with a less than 50 percent approval rating.

That’s how solid President Obama’s State of the Union speech was.

Oh, sure, there were the mandatory patches of populism and partisanship and mishmash of proposals that will never see the light of day. But the speech—as a speech—was good. And the president—as a speech deliverer—was back on his game, after inexplicably being AWOL from the bully pulpit for most of the past two years.

Maybe Obama realized that even his own supporters were forlorn at his recent uninspiring performance. Maybe he was energized by the Republican candidates immolating themselves. Maybe his chief speechwriter, former fair-haired boy Jon Favreau, decided he didn’t want to get written off as “washed up” at age 30.

Whatever the reason, Obama’s rhetorical performance last night was reminiscent of what got him elected. Consider these stylistic highlights:

Running start

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