On the left: many have been convinced that he is some kind of progressive savior, with the intent to advance social and international policies to bring the country back to stability, financially and with respect to foreign policy.
He may talk a big game, but it is not true. He has only made token changes in favor of progressive policies while he (among other things) made a deal giving away a public option before the health care debate even started, he has increased already bloated and wasteful defense spending, increased domestic spying programs, and in many ways his administration is even more secretive than W's.
On the right: many have been convinced that he is some kind of socialist conspirator, with the intent to increase the size of government exponentially and force government control into every aspect of our lives.
This also couldn't be farther from the truth. Most of his policies and the major legislation he has passed, from (among other things) health care to the so-called financial reform to his actions on the wars have ceded government control to private industry and private interests Government has only grown in that it is paying more to private businesses to do its work.
In reality, by his actions, Obama is a corporatist through and through, only slightly to the left of W, doing everything he can to give handouts to big businesses through various government programs. This, unfortunately, is a product of an election system that incentivizes this behavior and leaves those with the interests of the people at heart out in the cold.
If every specific proposal Obama makes in his speech tonight, no matter how good it sounds to the people, stands to shovel even more money to corporate powers, then we'll know that I'm right.
Trip to Space