Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts on the Non-State of the Union State of the Union

What has always struck me about President Obama is that, regardless of the circumstances, he seems like he is the adult in the room. Whereas Bush was the drunk uncle at your cousin's wedding who was hogging the microphone for far too long, Obama is an almost grandfatherly figure - the elder statesman, the bridge-builder, the wise man (not a wise guy, like Bush). He is a leader capable of both sobriety and inspiration.

Tonight's address was classic Obama: a mix of cautious conservatism and some pretty lofty (liberal) goals. He is right in that, as we find ourselves in the midst of this great economic crisis, NOW is the time to tackle the problems that have dogged us for too long: health care and energy being chief among them. Our health care "system" - if you can call it that - and our importation of foreign oil is short-shrifting our citizens, poisoning our planet and putting a burden on our economy. Now is the time to tackle these problems, not shy away from them.

At 9:00 tonight, before the President's address, I found myself in my customarily pessimistic position as I reflected on the sorry state of our national economy and conscience. But as he has so many times, Obama somehow has managed to turn my frown upside down, and reframe this moment as a possibility for rebuilding and renewal, as opposed to a complete meltdown of the world as we know it. The job before him - and us - is extraordinarily difficult, if not mostly impossible, and none of what the President outlined tonight will be easy. But I have been reminded once again of the importance of having faith that we will get there. We will get there. And we will be better off when we do.

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