Thursday, February 26, 2009

When the President Speaks, You Better Listen

On Tuesday, the only force in the nation powerful enough to subvert the schedule of "American Idol," the President himself, rose to address a joint meeting of congress.

Normally when this happens, we would call it a State of the Union Address, and this one had all the trappings of an SOU, as we mentioned in our post on Tuesday night. Supreme Court Justices, Joint Chiefs, the Cabinet, the First Lady and Honored Guests, all members of congress (some of which camped out as early s 8:30 in the morning to get a good seat close to the aisle and in view of the TV cameras), but it wasn't billed as a State of the Union. I imagine this is because the President is constitutionally obligated to give only one SOU per year, and this President is probably saving his SOU for later, when there's more good news to report.

By all accounts, the speech was a huge success. I certainly was blown away by it. You can read it for yourself here. Some of my favorite highlights were:

"The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth."

"[W]e have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. ...Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here."

"You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern...The concern is that if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins. "

"I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you – I get it. But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility."

"I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity."

"I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training...And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country"

"To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America...because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."

"We are not quitters."