You’ve Got to Have an Opinion on the Matter – Obama speech views

As I promised here are some other views on Obama’s address last night.

Wall Street Journal says Obama’s words on big government don’t sync with reality

One, two, three from hopeful but skeptical responses from The New Republic

The Moderate Voice asks, “Is Obama now center-left?”

Reason throws in their two cents

Politico tells us what Obama really meant last night

Vodkapundit and Althouse try a little live blogging, though it’s a little late for the live part.

And if you missed it you can always check out the Maine View.


Practice Makes Perfect – Obama’s confidence speech

Last night President Obama gave sort of a runner up to the State of the Union Address. I attempted to watch the entire speech, but I only made it until 9:30. Hey you get up at five every morning and take care of a toddler and a sick pregnant wife! All that damn standing and clapping really slowed things down. Sit down Pelosi and let the man speak. (Did anyone notice how hard she clapped when Obama mentioned healthcare reform? I thought Pelosi’s hands were going to shatter.)

Thanks to those magic internets, I read a full transcript of the speech. It’s far too long to analyze the whole thing piece by piece. Overall I enjoyed it. Obama countered a lot of his critics.

from CBC News

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by Presidents Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government — I don’t. Not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited — I am.

For those who have accused Obama of pushing a federalist big government agenda here’s his reply. Government isn’t the answer to all of our problems. This time, however, it has to be whether we like that or not. Most of us don’t want the government in our business. Obama is right though, failure of the government to act in some way would have led to us to a much worse place.

He gave historic examples as well of how government intervention helped private enterprise rather than shackling it under nationalization.

from CBC News

From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the Moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

There was a lot of reassuring language in the speech. Reminders of other hardships we have overcome and how Americans can accomplish anything were peppered throughout the address. This is not about helping banks, Obama said at one point, but helping people. Invoking Churchill, Obama did not shy away from tough talk either.

from CBC News

I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

With yet more abuse exposed this morning, these are some powerful words. Words the President needs to stand behind if he wants confidence to rise and outrage to stay at a low boil and not bubble over.

Though I’m eager to see what sorts of health care reforms will be proposed, I’m going to skip ahead to the education reforms Obama spoke of.

Obama addressed the problem of high school dropout rates and low college completion rates. I agree with his no nonsense words the need for a student to graduate high school. “Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country — and this country needs and values the talents of every American.” Obama highlighted two important things here. You cannot cannot CANNOT hope to get anywhere in this country without a high school diploma. Even a factory job our fathers could have gotten straight out of high school is out of reach to someone with just a high school diploma. Students too need to take a little responsibility in their futures as well.

It pleases me greatly that Obama recognizes reform cannot be achieved by simply throwing money at the problem


But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.

True reform and success will come from changing the way we do things in schools. Tenure and teacher pay raises linked to teacher performance are necessary. I still support charter schools and believe that they provide another important piece to the education puzzle, but not the only solution. Invest in programs that work, dump those that don’t. That’s some great common sense (and that’s not sarcasm.) I am expecting some more concrete reforms and for Arne Duncan to fill his damn cabinet.

I’ll post some other bloggers analysis later.

Sunday Editorial on Editorials – Even Republicans Praise Obama’s Inauguration Speech

Normally I like to review some local editorials from the Sunday paper today. The websites for the dailies here in Maine seem to all be down though. I am too lazy to go out and buy some copies; frankly the Portland Press Herald is not worth paying money for. I’ve had to look beyond the borders of the Pine Tree State for my opinions this Sunday.

The pickings were slim. I never realized how interesting the opinion sections of Maine newspapers are. It helps that we have a lot of strange people who aren’t afraid to share their views. We’re an odd breed up here. There’s no guessing if someone likes you or not. I’ll stop before I get too far off topic, something else Mainers are prone to do.

Just across the big green bridge from Kittery, Maine is Portsmouth. In the local Portsmouth paper, the aptly named Portsmouth Herald, I came across an interesting piece by

Kerr goes on to dissect Obama’s inauguration speech. The speech thoroughly moved and uplifted Kerr. The aspects of the speech that impressed Kerr were similar to those that got my attention. Overcoming the darkness in our past, our sense of brotherhood, and the call for unity.

Change did not win the election. One could argue that McCain presented changes of his own. The kind of change each candidate offered determined who won. The unity and togetherness that Obama proposed brought voters to his camp. McCain may have been willing to reach across party lines in the past, but that is not the front he presented during the election. The selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate proved that. McCain chose to pander to the dwindling Republican base. Obama reached out to moderates of both sides of the fence. “That one” won.

Both Obama and McCain pledge to secure and spread democracy throughout the world. McCain wished to do this by force. Obama will do this by force when necessary, but more importantly by providing an example and taking the moral high ground, as outlined by his inauguration speech. Obama dispelled the feelings of foreign policy naivete

There may be some in the extreme right that are still wondering how President Obama won. As Kerr points out, Obama silenced them with one sentence from his inauguration speech, saying, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

Not Poetry…Obama’s Inauguration Speech

I’m still a little awestruck from yesterday. The significance of the day simply seizes up the gears in my brain. I mean just…WOW! No matter what you think of President Obama’s politics he has made history and that is fact. Rather than comment on the day itself I’m going to focus on the Obama’s speech.

Some complained the speech did not have the echoes of the greats. Many said it lacked the poetry of speeches by Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, or MLK Jr. All of those great men were there yesterday in Obama’s speech. Obama gave us what we needed most in his speech, not style that would leave us hungry, but substance to energize us.

One can almost break down Obama’s speech by influence. Though it wasn’t an inauguration speech, Obama used a tone similar to Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” when speaking of our enemies.

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” – Obama

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – Reagan

Though the Soviets were a vastly different beast than Al-Qaeda and international terrorists, the message is the same. Join us in peace for good the global community that is how we will prosper. Both speeches also place us solidly in the moral high ground. It is in the opposition’s hands to take the olive branch we are extending. President Obama made an excellent diplomatic move here.

Obama recalls Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln in his speech. Both MLK and Lincoln called for a united America. Obama spoke on the struggles we faced as a nation in the past citing slavery, the Civil War, and the fight for civil rights. “We have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united”. Obama invokes the memory of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech, profoundly noting how far we have come and how that empowers us all to overcome anything.

“This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

Obama boldly acknowledge our shared history as a uniting factor, not a dividing one.

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth”

This statement is truly historic. Who could have dreamed that after 9/11 and the paranoia set on us by the Bush administration that we would have a president stating we are not only a Protestant nation. We are not a white nation. He even added non-believers, which to me is fantastic to hear after the near religious fanaticism that Bush inspired. The implications of Obama’s statement will push those not interested in joining together and being part of the solution farther away and bring the rest of us that much closer together.

Kennedy and Roosevelt’s speeches also clearly influenced Obama. In FDR’s first inaugural speech he lashed out at the financial institutions for pushing the country into a depression.

“Primarily this is because rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.”

Obama too sites greed and abuse of the market as causes for our current crisis.

“Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

Kennedy, one could argue, influenced Obama the most in his speech. In his inaugural address Kennedy called for smart diplomacy and firm opposition to those unwilling to negotiate, “Let every nation know… that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Kennedy also understood that a new generation would be taking up the call to service, “Let the word go forth…..that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” Perhaps the most famous line in a speech brimming with them, Kennedy called Americans to service for their country, “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy also acknowledged that the work would not be completed overnight, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

Obama hits on all of these points in his speech. Many I have already highlighted, but Obama comes back to the “call to service” often in his speech. This highlights Obama’s philosophy of government. We citizens are the government. We are the nation. The government is only a part of that nation. Working in conjunction with the government we can, and will, accomplish great things.

I look to the future with great anticipation. I have felt the call to help make this country a better place. Undoubtedly many others have too. After hearing Obama’s speech yesterday no one can deny that while there are rough times ahead we will preserve and emerge from the fray even stronger.