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Two Obamas: Which Will Show Up Tonight?

By Andrea Tantaros

When Barack Obama was a senator, he was much more upbeat. In fact, he was ultra-positive and almost too cheery and idealistic to be credible. We heard him on the campaign trail speaking incessantly about a gauzy vision of hope and change, while his supporters snorted his every amorphous and vague word in the quest for the euphoric Obama-high.

President Obama is a much different orator. He's replaced the flowery can-do language with a daily diatribe of doomsday. Like any drug, this one has given way to the harsh reality that coming down from his apex of hope isn't as fun as inhaling it was. "Yes we can!" has been replaced with "We can -- but only if we can make sacrifices NOW."

So which Obama will show up for tonight's address? The Obama who propagates the notion that our best days are ahead of us, or the one who invokes a melancholy vision and stresses that things will further decline before they improve?

After advice from the always helpful Bill Clinton and a market plunge, Obama likely knows he needs to stop accentuating the negative. But how else will he get his grand plans passed if he doesn't sound the alarm?
One thing Obama the senator and Obama the president have been consistent on is using "the fierce urgency of now" for whatever it is he wants. He has mastered the art of invoking gravity and extremity to manipulate popular opinion so he can either get elected, or pass his policy initiatives. Whether he is lambasting the last eight years to spur change or stoking panic about our current economic calamity to move the masses -- capitalizing on a crisis is one of his core competencies.

No matter which Obama shows up to speak to before Congress and the nations, one thing is certain: he must explain why things haven't gotten better. He will make excuses for why we've yet to see the rainbow-colored bunting, gold-encrusted streets and sugar-coated dreams he promised us from the stump. He can't blame all our ills on George Bush, but he'll try.

Here's my advice: If anyone is planning a drinking game tonight don't take a sip each time he says "the last eight years" unless you're looking to get sauced.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative political commentator and former Press Secretary to the House Republican Conference. Her commentary can be found at