"The best thing you can say for them this year is they haven't yet shut down the government or threatened to go deadbeat on America's obligations," the president deadpanned. "But it is still early, so ... ."
And while that drew applause from the hand-picked crowd at Cheesman Park, it reinforced the feeling that this appearance was intended to whip up Democrats in advance of mid-term elections, not broadly address issues crucial to the nation's economic health.
This was, after all, billed as a speech about economic issues.
And while we agree with the president, at least in part, on some of the issues he mentioned, we had to wonder why he didn't also use the opportunity to talk about, say, reforming entitlement programs, which is necessary to keep America financially solvent in the long term, and tax reform including corporate tax reform that might unleash investment.
The president did briefly mention tax reform, but only in a populist jab at corporate loopholes.
The reason for his silence, we suspect, is that these issues are unpopular with many in his party.
Indeed, there is no more appetite among lawmakers to take on those issues this year than there is enthusiasm among Republicans to commit funds to a universal preschool program.
We would have hoped the president would have used his stop in Denver to do something other than speak, however engagingly, about select issues to a crowd that was primed and ready for applause lines.
The middle class would indeed benefit from some of the initiatives Obama mentioned. But they'd also benefit from policies promoting solvency and growth.