Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama seeks to assure recession-weary nation

As the recession shows little signs of abatement, President Barack Obama sought to assure Americans the country will weather this economic storm in a speech he delivered last night to Congress.

Obama appeared poised--and dare I say Presidential--as he outlined his agenda for helping the country emerge from what arguably remains the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He rallied against corporate excesses, touched upon the need for personal responsibility and exuded the sense of hope and optimism about the United States that facilitated his historic election last November. And Obama correctly outlined what many observers and pundits have already described as sacred cows that could be cut as part of the $2 trillion of what he described as unnecessary spending he hopes to cut from the federal budget in the next decade.

It obviously remains to be seen whether these promises will actually come to fruition, but a clear case can be made Obama 'gets it' in terms of the real pain this recession has caused and the real need to put partisan ideology aside in order to solve what remains the worst economic downturn in more than 70 years. The same cannot be said for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his patronizing lecture against the economic stimulus.

The Republican wunderkind's rebuttal speech clearly doubled as a self-serving infomercial that confirmed his 2012 presidential aspirations. It was, however, an extremely unfortunate spectacle that arguably reaffirmed how out-of-touch the Republican Party remains in the eyes of the majority of American voters. Jindal's delivery was awkward, it's substance was arguably lacking and it did little to temper the enormous goodwill Obama continues to enjoy... and it almost certainly did not do the GOP any favors.

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