Obama's tone of voice throughout much of the speech was similar to that of his recent Congressional address on jobs, aggressive and a little excited, in contrast with his usual smooth, quiet oration.
The Israel haters already have the knives out, conservatives are fairly mum about the speech(silence means approval I guess), and the change of stance is being downplayed by quite a broad swath of the mainstream media. Many media outlets are focusing on the Palestinian negative reaction to the speech, and their continuing request to the UN for an independent Palestinian state.
I personally applaud the President's remarks. The Palestinians hard line stance, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying as recently as December of last year, "I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land" is in stark contrast to that of the Israelis, who have continuously sought peace with their Arab neighbors, and indeed coexist peacefully with Arabs and Christians in Jerusalem today.
The President had little to lose, and much to gain politically yesterday, going in to the 2012 election with domestic problems aplenty. But the cynical view that the President aimed his words only at the Jews in the US who supported his election in 2008, support he needs for re-election, is not warranted here. This was the grand stage, the United Nations. To tell the Palestinians to their faces that they need to negotiate peace with their neighbors took a bit of guts.
At the same time, this speech might have had more impact if not for his earlier missteps on this subject, declaring that the 1967 pre-war borders ought to be the starting point of negotiations between the Arabs and the Jews:
Compare this page A1 story from May to today’s New York Times A1, "Obama Rebuffed as Palestinians Pursue U.N. Seat":Web Link
which declares in it's second paragraph: "The United States is facing the prospect of having to share, or even cede, its decades-long role as the architect of Middle East peacemaking." The NYT described his speech as 'difficult'.
In my opinion, it is only difficult for those who don't expect the Palestinian people to behave the same as the Israelis in the pursuit of peace.