Tonight Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and an even more important audience — the American people. Since it was technically not a "state of the union" address, I think it's safe to call the speech the "state of the economy" address. Hoping to turn the page on tough economic times, the president read the country a litany of reasons for the crisis. Gutted regulations, irresponsible home purchases, predatory lending, tax cuts to the wealthy, and a lack of investment in America's future have brought us all to a day of reckoning, he said.
After laying the blame, Obama explained his plan. Making it hard to believe he's only been in office for a month, Obama touted the specifics of the aggressive stimulus package. The president played professor for a bit too, spelling out why it's important to keep credit flowing and help banks. "It's not about helping banks, it's about helping people," he said frankly.
Perhaps most crucially, Obama called out the "neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford." Assuring skeptics, Obama said his housing plan won't bail out that irresponsible person, but it will help responsible Americans maintain the value of or refinance their homes.
Obama also took time to discuss his upcoming budget. His priorities? Energy, health care, and education. His voice filled with emotion when he asserted that health care reform will not wait another year. Touching on foreign policy, Obama broke sharply from the man who last spoke to a joint session of Congress. He reannounced the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison and proclaimed that "America does not torture."
While speaking of dire troubles, Obama exuded energy and optimism. Regardless of the merit of his policies, all in all, Obama performed like a true leader tonight.
"It is not so much that man is a herd animal but that he is a horde animal led by a chief"