In short, I think Obama nailed it. He mixed realism about what we face with optimism that we can conquer it, and the "we will emerge stronger" line was right out of the park. After the partisan rancor over the stimulus package, I think Obama did a great job of recapturing the narrative and explaining how the stimulus will benefit us as a nation. I also think it speaks highly of him that he set out such an ambitious agenda--fixing health care within the year, helping turn the economy around, halving the deficit by 2012, etc. It's a very lofty plan and cynics would say it can't be done, but he has a mandate roughly on par with what Reagan enjoyed during his 1980s revolution.
Cool side note: Obama gave Tom Perriello's first bill a shout-out, albeit not by name. He mentioned early in the speech that there will now be a $2500 tax credit for higher ed funding--that was Tom and Lloyd Doggett of Texas, who got together on the bill and it ended up in the stimulus. Much props, Tom & Lloyd!
Which leads me to what I think was the most important part of the speech: when the President asked all Americans to go back to school for at least one year of higher education to remain competitive in the global economy, given the new affordability measures coming through Congress. It's a good idea on its own, but it says something larger about what kind of administration we have. President Obama asked us to stand up and take part in fixing our country's problems.
To paraphrase part of Mark Warner's stump speech, if President Bush had asked us on September 12 to get off of foreign oil so we can stop funding both sides of the war, every patriotic American would have asked, "How can I help?" Or if he had asked my generation to learn Afghani tribal languages and join the intelligence community, many of us would have gladly signed up. We have seen a decline in our civic-mindedness as a country over the past years, and Obama is trying to tap into that. Based on the way he ran his campaign, I think he can do it, and the country will be better as a result.