President Obama Addresses Congress and the Nation
Once again Barack Obama brought tears to my eyes as I listened to him speak. This time he was addressing the Congress and the nation, explaining what he is proposing to do to handle the current financial shambles and how he intends to work with Congress and the American people to lead us back to economic growth and into a better future. From the Republican created ash pile the Democrats now have the best chance in decades of taking us where we need to go in regards to health care, energy usage, educational needs, updates to infrastructure and revising our overall domestic and foreign policies.
As the President spoke, it was interesting to watch the Congressional Republicans. They have become such knee jerk reactionaries, opposing anything that does not especially benefit the rich and lambasting everything our government does that is not fully in line with their narrow minded ideology. So their initial reaction to the speech was to sit on their hands. But gradually, as the common sense inevitability, wisdom and traditional American spirit of what the President was envisioning became clear, more and more Republicans had to join in the applause, at first because they remembered that this is what got Obama so convincingly elected, and then because they started to realize they actually do agree with a lot of what he is saying, once they stop their knees from jerking.
My tears were of joy and appreciation. The President himself wrote what he said, which is why he delivers it with such honest conviction. He is so comfortable with his role and so good at it that it is inspiring to watch him, especially after the monumental embarrassment that was George W. Bush. Obama is wise beyond his years. He has the long range vision not only to see where his programs will lead us, but also to combine wisdom with patience in reaching out to Republicans to start to create a long term sense of civil bi-partisanship. Some groups are organizing to put pressure on Obama and the Democrats to move to the left, and I agree with them that is where we ultimately belong. But for now, I believe the Obama approach of some moderation and effort to consider Republican viewpoints is more worthwhile.
Part of my tears for Obama come from my roots in the African-American neighborhoods of Seattle. When I see him, I think of kids I knew growing up and how if they had come along twenty years later, they might be President. Watching the President enthusiastically greet the members of Congress as he entered the chamber was joyous. When he kissed the cheeks of white women, the part of me that goes back to the days before civil rights was saying that was a no-no back then, but the part of me that read his autobiographical "Dreams from My Father" knew that kissing white women is what Barack did every time he kissed the women who raised him, his mother and grandmother.
The Republican response was given by Governor Jindal of Louisiana, and was my first viewing of him. This "fresh face" may be a different colored Republican, but the talk he gave was the same old pablum. While Obama seemed to strike the perfect balance between not talking down to Congress and not talking over the head of the average American, Jindal seemed to be talking down to everyone with more than a second grade education. His story about the redneck Sheriff rescuing Louisiana from the flood, in spite of the government bureaucrat was ironically irrelevant and misguided. The Government failure in Katrina was largely due to the Bush Administration philosophy of keeping the government out of the way. And as David Gergen pointed out, it is hard to say the government has not been involved in Katrina recovery efforts when it has spent about 175 billion dollars so far.