Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'Status' of the Union

It wasn't officially a State of the Union address, so what do we call it?

The President addressed both chambers of Congress tonight in a somewhat raucous(for stuffy, government types) affair that included an almost ten minute long round of applause when he entered the room. Were they really that excited about him, or is it merely good politics to appear giddy in his presence?

I love listening to the President speak. Actually, I love listening to ANY President speak; this time around it's just that much more fun. It's weird, though, to watch crowds of grown men and women swarm just to be near him. I would probably do the same thing if I were in the room. We obviously don't have a monarch in this country, but we still seem to have some innate, human need to revere someone. Could that be a weakness? One of humanity's many faults?

Now that he officially has the job, President Obama has settled quite comfortably into a role no president has filled in my lifetime: mentor, sage, Obi-wan. He shares wisdom and encouragement and an occasional rebuke:
"Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. You don't just give up on yourselves...you give up on your country."
Intense! I hope people listen closely. He's like a modern day Solomon...without the multiple wives and baby-splitting dilemmas:
"We can't afford to govern out of anger."
This was a comment on the anger most Americans feel towards fancy CEOs who were using their bailout money to carpet their private jets with solid gold berber. Our gut reaction is to burn them at the stake, but the President reminded us that a hasty approach probably isn't the best idea.
"...government intervention didn't supplant private enterprise...it catalyzed it!"
He was talking about various financial crises throughout American history that required government intervention. He was reasonable enough tonight to address conservative concerns about the federal government potentially over-regulating.

The speech was encouraging to me. No one can confidently predict that the President's plan will be just what the doctor ordered, but I think he deserves a shot to try it his way. What's the alternative? Doing nothing? Tax cuts? I try every day to consider other points of view. I'm finding it hard these days, though, to get my mind around the motive behind the standard Republican solution. I'm sure there are more details in their plans than just "cut taxes!" Maybe one of them would be good enough to stand up and articulate for us. I'd listen!

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