President Obama set the tone for what he intends to do, while listing the challenges ahead:
“Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down.”This speech was well crafted and expertly delivered. The speech was not overly wonkish, but it was really well delivered. In fact the speech sounded better than it read. The President helped explain why huge resources must go into creating a baseline of solvency for the system and a commitment to renewed lending and down the road growth. The speech and how Obama delivered it really set the right tone. Instant public surveys on Barack Obama's speech showed that generally speaking the public was incredibly receptive to his speech, regardless of political party.
A CBS News poll of approximately 500 people saw approval of the president rise from 62% before the speech to 69% afterward. A CNN poll showed 68% of respondents viewed the speech positively, 24% somewhat positively, and only 8% not positively. 82% supported the president's economic plan as outlined in the speech, while 17% opposed it.
As with every President, Obama did try to rally the nation by extolling the extraordinary character of the American people.
“Even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.”
As to the speech, I believe President Obama's comments on the economy do foreshadow tough decisions in the near future. Many are going to be embedded in his budgetary request that will come out two days from now.
He layed out the tasks of cutting federal spending, resuscitating the nation’s banking system, reviving the moribund auto industry, improving this nation's energy plan, and improving education; all huge tasks un-to-themselves. While the President acknowledged that these would be daunting tasks, but that we as a nation could face them together and overcome.
I believe President Obama helped to frame the state of the nation and the debate when he said:
“Short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity… we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election… difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.”
Foreign policy was a sideshow in this speech, and I understand why, but we live in a world so interconnected, that I do not believe a discussion of our economy cannot include more about our foreign relations. A lot of the success that President Obama is hoping for is working with China, Japan, Germany, and Europe as a whole.
Still it was a great speech. One every other speech he gives will be compared to, and 20 years from now another President will be preparing for a speech, and the pundits will ask can their speech compare to President Obama's first address to the nation. And in the end President Obama's message was a simple one to the nation, ‘We will recover.’
Read the text of the full speech here.
You can watch it here: