Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's speech

Note that President Obama's state of the union speech last night was low on specifics, but high on rhetoric-attempting-to-inspire:

"The time to take charge of our future is here," Obama said, delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress. Adding words of reassurance to an anxious nation, he declared, "Tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."

This shouldn't surprise--it's straight out of the playbook of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, or Ronald Reagan. That is, it reflects the belief that one of the first things a president must do build and/or restore Americans' confidence, inspire them. Clearly Obama seeks to do that, to build on his so-far high poll numbers.

UPDATE: but by the way, some establishment types remain cynical about what Obama is proposing--see for example Howard Fineman, of Newsweek:

"The president is vowing to reform and vastly expand health care, to renew education, to remake the energy and auto industries, and to save the banking system. Oh, and let’s not forget: to end the recession. He’s going to do all this and, at the same time, cut the deficit in half by 2013. He says, his budget will be a new model of candid “transparency” – unlike all of those fiction-filled budgets of the past. I don’t think I’m being unduly cynical to wonder if it’s possible."

And the editors of National Review make a good point--let's applaud the president for the conservative promises he made in this speech, and hold him to them:

"We would wager that President Obama’s speech will go over well. Much of it sounded good to us. The president says that he does not believe in big government and, indeed, wants to abolish ineffective government programs. He seeks to avoid as much as possible bailing out irresponsible homeowners, bankers, and automakers. He promises to stand up against protectionism. He claims that nobody making less than $250,000 a year will pay a single dime more in taxes. He favors tax-free universal savings accounts for retirement. He is, judging from the speech, uninterested in promoting social liberalism. And even where we disagreed with what he said, he usually made a cogent, reasonable-sounding case for his position."