Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Drama: Addressing Congress

I have no credentials or special expertise to assess the specifics of President Obama's economic- recovery speech. However, I am a voting American and a big fan of the Prez. Thus, I'm entitled to give my take on its effectiveness.

Watching President Obama address Congress, the Supreme Court Justices, military brass, and others gathered in those hallowed halls, I marveled at his ability to deliver a speech (seemingly without a prompter) without stumbling over words or ideas. I cannot recall another President who has spoken so eloquently or sincerely about the ties that bind us as nation and the divisions that keep us separate--racially, economically, and politically. Still I flinch whenever Obama gives a speech or answers questions at a White House news conference. I feel like a mother watching her favorite son perform before the school assembly. I so want him to succeed.

I can't shake the feeling that Obama is a sheep among wolves. Despite his enormous popularity at home and abroad, I believe that many in this country with a stake in the status quo eagerly await (or are plotting) his downfall, perhaps, even his demise. It's obvious to me that Senator John McCain is planning his 2012 presidential bid. This week he lambasted Obama over a fleet of Marine One helicopters being built at a cost of $11.2 billion. (I imagine the deal for this was arranged and approved before Obama took office.) During tonight's address, whenever the camera panned on McCain, he looked downright lockjawed.

During follow-up analysis by CNN, ABC, and FOX, Obama was accused of speaking out of both sides of his mouth, making unrealistic promises, not providing specifics, sounding "presidential," and being Pollyanish about how much he can in accomplish with Republicans almost totally against his stimulus packaage.

Among political pundits, I admire most ABC's George Stephanopoulos; he is straightforward but, fair-minded when reporting on the Obama presidency. He tackles hard issues without tearing down the President.

I give President Obama an "A" for his effort at galvanizing the nation around his agenda; but he gets a "B" for promising too much--like cutting half of the federal deficit by the end of his term or making bold, but unlikely, assertions on reforms in health care, tax cuts to the wealthy, higher education, and government accountability.

It could be that Obama is too much for our country. We are so used to not having hope that words to the contrary seem hollow and superficial. I hope that time will work in Mr. Obama's favor and that he will not become The One-Term Black President.