From (Pittsburgher) Kathy Kiely in USA Today:
Obama sounded at times as if he were kicking off this fall's campaign for control of Congress during his speech before 350 academic and business leaders at the Carnegie Mellon University campus.
The Obama Partisanship Meter took another small jump today. When last we checked the needle, President Obama had tweaked Republicans at a Democratic fundraiser, using pointed language to blame them for doing nothing to help improve the economy. It was an escalation in his rhetoric, but it was delivered to a partisan crowd. Today, in a noncampaign event, Obama made his critique more explicit.
“This has hijacked his entire legislative agenda,” said Douglas Brinkley, a historian at Rice University who has written about Jimmy Carter, whose presidency was consumed by the Iran hostage crisis. “The White House felt they were on a roll. They were looking to be a new New Deal or new Great Society and they were just getting momentum going. Something this awful has sidetracked the agenda.”
. . . White House officials reject that, saying the president can still move forward on several fronts. They pointed, as an example, to his effort in a speech on Wednesday in Pittsburgh to push for Senate passage of his energy and climate change legislation. Advisers to Mr. Obama are anticipating a new jobs report on Friday that they hope will show progress in rebuilding the economy, and they expect that new financial regulations will pass regardless of the oil spill.
“The nature of the presidency is you lay plans and you pursue them knowing that there are going to be exigencies that occur,” said David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser. “What you can’t do is, no matter how dramatic the challenge, you can’t concentrate all your energy on one thing and one thing alone.”