So why is the reaction more favorable this time? Perhaps the right has realized that their policy of unrelenting hostility displayed during the debt ceiling negotiation fiasco, didn't work too well politically for them. On the left, maybe it's just a question of tone of voice. The president's critics from the left seemed pleased with the firm manner the president displayed in his jobs speech. Instead of presenting his ideas in an open, conciliatory way, he told Congress that he had already thought of everything, and they'd damn well better just pass his bill right away.
Is it possible that what people are applauding as different is simply that the president's ideas were presented in such an assertive manner? I have to admit that it's a bit disappointing to me to see how much people seem to crave a strong father-figure president, rather than a president who attempts to bring different factions and views together and who defers to Congress's central place in our constitutional scheme. I don't think President Obama has ever acted weak, but he is sometimes perceived as weak because he is so willing to listen, to consider all points of view, and give a prominent role to other actors in the political process. I always thought these were desirable traits, but evidently they sometimes frustrate the president's supporters, and they lessen respect from his opponents.
All this might mean that the public is not quite ready for the bring-us-together, friendly, smiling, conciliatory, moderator type of president that Obama sometimes has promised. Instead we seem to prefer the tough, old-fashioned commander who tells us how it is going to be, and what we need to do. Even though our craving for authority seems a bit anti-democratic to me (weren't we the people who overthrew the king in a revolution a couple of hundred years ago?), maybe the president needs to take that tone in order to move a Congress that is currently controlled by the opposition. If that tone also cheers up the president's supporters, then I guess that's a win for the president all around.