President Barack Obama's State of the Union address was praised by area Republicans as well as Democrats on Wednesday, although he was criticized by a few political allies and foes, too.

"I was struck by the bipartisan tone of his speech," Otsego County Democratic Chairman Edward Lentz said.

"Part of me liked that and part of me didn't, but Obama said he would bring us together, and that's just what he's trying to do," Lentz said. "He believes our best chance to solve our problems lies in working together."

Although the speech was criticized by some liberals and conservatives, perhaps the diversity of critics shows the president has found the political center, Lentz said.

Republican Erik Miller, executive director of the Otsego County Conservation Association and an Oneonta city alderman, also found much to like in this year's speech.

Obama's address, "resonated on many environmental fronts, including the need to increase high-speed rail accessibility to 80 percent of Americans: this, a greener option than flying or driving," Miller said.

In an e-mail to The Daily Star, Miller also applauded, "pushing high-speed Internet so all citizens can be connected in this digital age, creating the ability to move information and knowledge, to work from home and telecommute.

"Early in his speech, the president spoke of clean energy, and the reality that many forms of energy are required to get off our dependence on yesterday's fuel. On this front, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be looking at a national energy policy, a plan to conserve, as well as explore our options."

On the other hand, Republican Alexander Shields of Richfield Springs said: "I'd give him an A-plus for motivational speaking, but I don't think what he's done squares with what he's told us he's going to do. Are we still in Iraq? Yes. Afghanistan? Yes, and maybe in deeper than ever. Is Guantanamo closed? No. He talks about how we have to be ready for competition with India, but we're already behind on that front. My question is can you trust him to do what he says he's going to do, and I have my doubts."

Also disappointed was Democrat Ken Millett of Oxford.

"I think the president missed an opportunity to really connect with his audience.

"He said we can't afford to be left behind in this world, when he should have said we have been left behind, from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, but it's not going to happen again," Millett said.

At Hartwick College on Tuesday night, a group of about 30 students and five staff members watched the speech together, associate political science professor Laurel Elder said.

"I love to watch and listen to the State of the Union as part of a community," she said. "I think it's much more powerful that way, to see how people react to it as they hear it."

State of the Union speeches are important because they're rare opportunities to listen to presidents imparting what they believe is important, rather then hearing sound bites and then analysis from commentators.

Elder said, "I really liked the speech, myself, especially the emphasis on education." She also approved of the president "going out of his way to rise above politics and speak about issues that Republicans find important. He's aiming for the center in American politics because that's where you can accomplish the most."

Among Hartwick's students watching the speech was freshman Devin Martin, head of the school's college Republicans.

"I think the speech was right on the money," he said. "I think he summed it up when he said, `this is our generation's Sputnik moment."'

Martin said he concurs with Obama that Americans must put aside differences to work for the common good.

"What made President Kennedy so successful was that he captured the imagination of the American public," he said. "I think it's taken President Obama a little time to be able to carry over his magic from the presidential campaign into presidential politics."

Martin said he was especially impressed by Obama's call to improve American education and to elevate the place of mathematics and science in a society that too often worships sports heroes and downplays academic achievement.

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