Two things stood out here. First of all, his language about his gun task force was pretty strong and convincing. When I heard "task force" this morning, I thought hoo boy, March or April. However:
The Biden-led task force will produce “concrete proposals” by January that Obama said he “intend[s] to push without delay” and will include in his State of the Union Address. Biden joined Obama at the announcement but did not speak.
“There’s already a growing consensus for us to build from,” Obama said. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of American support laws requires background checks before all gun purchases.” The new Congress, he said, should vote on all these measures and prioritize confirming a new leader for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A set of recommendations by the end of January means something to vote on in February, at least in my book. That's pretty fast. Of course the NRA will have collected itself by then, but for gummint work, that's pretty fast, and he sounded pretty resolute.
Then, on the question of the fiscal cliff and getting Republicans to vote for a deal, he took the moral high ground:
There is no doubt that the Speaker has challenges in his caucus, and I recognize that. I am often reminded when I speak to the Republican leadership that the majority of their caucus's membership come from districts that I lost. So sometimes they may not see an incentive in cooperating with me....
...But goodness. If this past week has done anything it should just give us some perspective. If there's one thing we should have after this week it should be a sense of perspective about what's important. And I would like to think that members of that caucus would say to themselves, you know what, we disagree with the president on a whole bnxh of things; we wish the ohter guy had won; we're gonna right him on a whole range of issues over the next four years; we think his philosophy is all screwed up, but right now what the country needs is for us to compromise....
...If you just pull back from the immediate political battles and you kinda peel off the partisan war paint, then we should be able to get something done. I think the Speaker would like to get that done. I thnk an environment needs to be created, within not just the House Republican caucus but also among Senate Republicans, that says the campaign's over, and let's see if we can do what's right for the country at least for the next month.
That "partisan war paint" is going to be requoted and remembered for some time. Obama's words there were pitch-perfect--for those who want a deal, that is. That doesnt include most Republicans. But more interestingly, it also doesn't include most Washington liberals, at least as of today. But it does include most regular Americans. Obama is talking directly to them. This language tells me Obama is ready to confront some anger from some liberal quarters and think he'll be better off political in the long getting a deal done before New Year's. Whatever my reservations about certain particulars, I cannot say he's wrong.