In case you missed it, you can watch Obama's speech here, or save yourself ten minutes and listen to Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Howard Fineman explain why they thought it was so terrible.
For starters, the speech included a jumble of metaphors. The oil leak is like a war, said Obama:
I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.
Well, maybe it's more like a disease or a hurricane, said Obama:
The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years. ... And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day.
There was also, of course, plenty of blaming others:
A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe – that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.
That was obviously not the case on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why.
Obama also included a gratuitous swipe at conservative straw men, who were somehow still in charge of the drilling oversight organization Minerals Management Service and believe in a "failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves."
But don't let Obama's belief that conservatives have a "failed philosophy" make you think he's less than open-minded:
So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party – as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels.
Yes, he really used the oil leak--in a speech about the government's inability to stop it--to call on Congress to pass his big government energy bill.
As Daniel Foster notes at NRO:
There’s an added layer of irony here as well. As Planet Gore contributor Chris Horner rehearses at length in his book Power Grab, the prime architect of the cap-and-trade idea was — you guessed it — former BP CEO Lord John Browne. So there is a special kind of cognitive dissonance going on in the juxtaposition of BP bullying and carbon tax cheerleading.
All in all, a fairly typical speech from Obama in a non-campaign setting.