Looks like I owe the president an apology.
I found my heart beating faster when he said things like:
- We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.
- As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally born a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. This is not because we begrudge those who've done well – we rightly celebrate their success. Rather, it is a basic reflection of our belief that those who have benefited most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back. Moreover, this belief has not hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale, who continue to do better and better with each passing year.
- After Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program – but we didn't pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts – tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.
- Most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but they like the stuff it buys. Most of us, regardless of party affiliation, believe that we should have a strong military and a strong defense. Most Americans believe we should invest in education and medical research. Most Americans think we should protect commitments like Social Security and Medicare.
- Around two-thirds of our budget is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans' benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20%. What's left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That's 12 percent for all of our other national priorities like education and clean energy; medical research and transportation; food safety and keeping our air and water clean.
- Up until now, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington have focused almost exclusively on that 12%. But cuts to that 12% alone won't solve the problem. So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table.
- We don't have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I'm President, we won't.
Now THAT’S the Barack Obama I voted for on November 4, 2008!
Interestingly, this wasn’t, as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night in her coverage of the speech, a “barn-burner.” There were no soaring rhetorical heights or dramatic, eloquent applause lines. The president was muted, in fact, as if he didn’t want his vaunted speechifying ability to detract from the message he was imparting. It worked for me.
The president acknowledged that the Rabid Partisan Monster will undoubtedly rear its ugly head following his speech and roar its disapproval and unwillingness to allow cooperation and compromise. But he also played the Hope and Change Card again, reminding listeners that we’ve come together to meet challenges before and surely there are politicians on both sides of the aisle who actually want to get stuff done. When he expressed his belief that “we can and must come together again,” I shouted out to Anita in the other room, “Hey, honey! Barack’s back!”
Okay, Mr. Obama. Prove that these weren’t just words in a speech and I’m back in.
P.S. When did they pass a law requiring that presidents end each and every speech, no matter the topic or audience, with “God bless you and may God bless the United States of America?” If you’re reading this blog, STOP IT, willya?!
P.P.S. Does it irk anyone else that some members of the media are focusing on the earth-shattering question of whether or not Vice President Biden nodded off a little during this address? Way to zero in on what’s important, dickheads. Uncle Walter would be proud.
Sources: Washington Post, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show