A thoughtful and measured reaction to President Obama's speech in Cairo earlier today is going to require a bit of time. That should be seen as a good thing - the President is a thoughtful and measured person. Here, however, are a few quick thoughts... with more to follow later.

A good initial take, however, can be found in this NYT blog post, consisting of quick reactions from Arab students in Egypt and Jordan. For a good summary of both the speech itself and of immediate reaction around the region take a look at this round-up from the BBC. Especially noteworthy is its report (sourced to AFP) that Hamas in Gaza gave the speech a guarded welcome, saying it showed "tangible change". In the nuanced world of Middle Eastern politics that represents a significant evolution in tone.

Unfortunate, if perhaps inevitable, is this analysis from Roger Simon at Politico. Simon is one of the most important analysts of the American political scene. By judging the speech almost entirely on the basis of which lines did or did not garner applause, however, he proves that a deep knowledge of American politics does not travel especially well.

Similarly, careful analysts should ignore reporting focused on the heavy security along Obama's motorcade route and the lack of adoring crowds. Some have treated this as evidence of a chilly reception. If US newspapers still took foreign coverage seriously, they would have local correspondents in Cairo who would know that the blocking off of a motorcade route hours in advance by police standing shoulder to shoulder along its entire length has long been standard procedure in Cairo for visits like this (as well as the rare occasions when President Hosni Mubarak ventures into the city center). In these instances the police are there to prevent crowds from forming. Even the sidewalks are closed to passing pedestrians.



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