Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama Delivers Hopeful Yet Realistic State of the Union Address

Obama Delivers Hopeful Yet Realistic
State of the Union
Kaitlynn Riely
Posted: Feb 24th 2009 10:40PM
Filed under: Politics, News, The Economy, Notre Dame

The hope is not gone, people.
If you thought a collapsing economy, rampant unemployment, a huge deficit and two wars was going to get Obama down after a little more than a month in office, you were wrong. In his State of the Union Tuesday night, delivered before a joint session of Congress, President Obama was just as hopeful as he was before he became the chief executive, though he was bluntly realistic about the challenges. Obama said he recognized that the economy was the one issue that Americans were thinking about now above all others. The challenges the country faces are severe, but he had faith that America would emerge successfully. "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," he said. The way to do this: jumpstart job creation and pass a budget that invests in energy, health care and education. And there has to be accountability. Obama said Vice President Joe Biden would be in charge of oversight, to make sure money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus plan) is spent responsibly. "Nobody messes with Joe," Obama said. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi loved that line. She quickly jumped up to give Biden a standing ovation. Another key part of the recovery plan is ensuring the flow of credit, Obama said. At this point, President Obama became Professor Obama, explaining who needs credit, why they need it and how to free up credit.He's not going to let Wall Street bankers use taxpayer dollars to pad their paychecks any longer, Obama said, resuming his role as Commander-in-Chief and bringing out the tough talk:"Those days are over." Obama made it clear who his constituents were"It's not about helping banks. It's about helping people." He repeated the line twice, over applause. Obama said his plan for America's recovery is directly tied to his budget proposal, which focuses on energy, healthcare and education, three areas Obama believes are vital. He wants to see clean energy, more efficient cars and trucks and higher standards for the automobile industry. He then turned into America's personal trainer:"This is America. We don't do what's easy. We do what's necessary to move this nation forward." He called for healthcare reform. CBS's cameras zoomed in on Hillary Clinton's standing O. I heard echoes of Josiah Bartlett when he called for a cure for cancer "in our time." It's not exactly John F. Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, but at least it's being discussed. (Since I am now a Twitter user, I can report that Lance Armstrong was very happy about the cancer line.)The most interesting parts of Obama's speech, I thought, were about education. A good education has become a "prerequisite to opportunity," he said. He asked all Americans to commit to one year or more of college or career training. By 2020, he wants America to have the highest proportion of college graduates. The line that made me most proud? "I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States does not torture," Obama said. Obama had Republicans and Democrats alike on their feet applauding at many points in the speech. He even got them laughing. Can we figure out some way to bottle up his optimism and pour it into the stock market?

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