President Barack Obama's State of the Union address marked a sweet spot in his presidency when economic signs and his own personal approval are on the rise. He made sure to capitalize, taking credit for policies he said raised the country out of its recession.

But sweet spots are by definition fleeting - moments in time that can just as quickly sour.

Tuesday's speech capped a remarkably activist 11 weeks since Obama suffered the humiliation of Democratic losses that gave Republicans control of both chambers of Congress. But this was not a lessons-learned address. Instead, Obama drew lines in the sand that cautioned against Republican overreach. And while he offered a nod to bipartisanship on issues such as trade, he pushed a traditional Democratic economic agenda of tax increases for the rich, expanded paid leave for workers and increased aid for education.

For a president two months removed from a devastating political loss, this was not a speech uttered in retreat. Instead, he brashly wagged his finger at his critics.

"At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits," he said. "Instead, we've seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years."

The White House is betting that by promoting the economic successes, Obama can boost his governing credibility. By laying credit at the doorstep of his own administration, Obama is looking to gain leverage over Republicans and weaken their resolve to undo his go-it-alone initiatives on immigration, climate change and Cuba.