Obama's Speech: Vision v. Means

Writing about President Obama's speech last night, The NYTimes says:

The economic crisis requires immediate, bold and comprehensive action. And on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama displayed the ambition and the sweeping vision that won him the White House — and that this crisis demands.

Perhaps. But "vision" in a speech must translate, contra Lakoff, into policies that work to realize that vision. Tellingly, the Times adds:

It was a refreshing change after his less-than-forceful handling of the stimulus bill. . . . We can now only hope that Mr. Obama will use his 2010 budget proposal, which he unveils this week, to forcefully press his broader economic agenda.

President Obama's speech lacked specificity, particularly on the financial crisis. As The Times writes:

One disappointment in Mr. Obama’s speech was his failure to deliver any more clarity on his plan to rescue the nation’s banking system. He said he would not provide bailouts “with no strings attached.” But he offered even less specificity than the administration has in recent weeks. The choices are indisputably difficult, and Mr. Obama may be trying to keep his options open. His team has seemed skittish about the increasingly obvious need for some form of government takeover of some of the biggest banks. If Mr. Obama has a better plan, the nation needs to hear it soon.

This lack of specificity was apparent in almost all the issue areas of President Obama's speech. In a comment last night, Donald from Hawaii wrote:

The president had to offer hope. And in that regard, I think he Barack Obama [hit] the right notes, touching on general ideas and goals, and giving us a sense of purpose, mission and direction without getting mired in the weeds.

Speaking as a policy wonk myself, there's time to flesh out and debate the specifics afterward. Had Obama discussed them in detail now, I think it would have been lost on most people.

Now, let me qualify my remarks in your favor.

If the president continues to give rote variations of this speech over the next few weeks, then I think your grade of B- will be more than justified, both retrospectively and in spades. In that regard, I certainly couldn't begrudge your wanting to perhaps lower tonight's evaluation to a C or C-, or even a D+, particularly if subsequent results in Congress render tonight's speech as nothing but a lot of beer foam. Only time will tell.

This is an intelligent perspective but I can not agree. It is true that many parts of President Obama's speech were evocative of one of my favorite speeches, FDR's 1932 Oglethorpe speech. Particularly these passages from FDR's speech:

It is toward that objective that we must move if we are to profit by our recent experiences. Probably few will disagree that the goal is desirable. Yet many, of faint heart, fearful of change, sitting tightly on the roof-tops in the flood, will sternly resist striking out for it, lest they fail to attain it. Even among those who are ready to attempt the journey there will be violent differences of opinion as to how it should be made. So complex, so widely distributed over our whole society are the problems which confront us that men and women of common aim do not agree upon the method of attacking them. Such disagreement leads to doing nothing, to drifting. Agreement may come too late.

Let us not confuse objectives with methods. Too many so-called leaders of the Nation fail to see the forest because of the trees. Too many of them fail to recognize the vital necessity of planning for definite objectives. True leadership calls for the setting forth of the objectives and the rallying of public opinion in support of these objectives.

Do not confuse objectives with methods. When the Nation becomes substantially united in favor of planning the broad objectives of civilization, then true leadership must unite thought behind definite methods.

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.

We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!

But timing is everything in life. FDR gave this historic speech in 1932, when he was an unannounced candidate for President. The 100 Days were not marked by great speeches, but by great actions, legislation and policy initiatives.

The time for talking is over. The time for action is at hand. Today, it is not clear what action President Obama plans to take. And for that reason, I can not consider last night's speech a resounding success.

Speaking for me only

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    Good Speech (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by maddog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:07:04 AM EST
    It was a good speech.  Obama is a good speaker but I want to see some good action.  

    Also, I don't care who caused the problems or what you inherited.  I want them fixed.  Enough with the "I came into office with these problems."  Obama is in charge now.  In 6 months if the economy is still in the cr*pper, people will be saying "Bush who?".  

    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:25:52 AM EST
    In fact, he probably voted Yea on some of the things that caused/contributed to this mess during his Senate time leading up to this office. The Democratic congress doesn't seem to remember their role in creating some of what's gone wrong.

    Solutions. The people are well-aware of who has been in WA DC over the past 8 years...congressional majorities and administration.


    Blame makes hackles go up. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Fabian on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:40:53 AM EST
    And it's definitely not a bipartisan ploy.  In fact, it's a very partisan ploy and does not invite cooperation.

    As such, pointing the finger of blame is best done when running for election, when it is completely to your advantage to point out the other side's failings.  However, come next election the question will be "Four more years of _?" and there better be something good to fill in that blank.

    "I inherited ___." is a blatant "It's not my fault!" claim.  It may be true, but it could come across as whining.  Unless you plan on following up with "...and this is how we addressed those problems....", best to not use it at all.


    I disagree strongly. (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:23:08 AM EST
    The actions we take going forward need to be informed by the mistakes that were made that got us here if they are going to be transformational.  In fact, the biggest issue in my opinion that Obama faces in this economic crisis is the fact that everyone on the Hill currently seems to think that re-regulating the financial industry is a low priority.  They say it is not the time for blame now.  Well, actually it is time to take a good hard look at how we got here, who was pushing the insanity forward, and how we identify honest brokers in our efforts to rebuild what has been destroyed.

    It is not lost on the American public that the same CEOs and board members that got us into this mess still have their jobs.  I won't even get into Geithner and Summers positions as advisors to the President in a mess that they seemed to have at least some hand in helping to create this problem by not understanding the free market's potential for collapse.  Both Democrats and Republicans bought into this erroneous thinking and propelled it forward.  

    Conservatism  and anti-government movements were the extreme views that permeated so many people's thinking.  Jindal was selling that stuff again last night as if nothing ever happened - as if he and his GOP leadership had nothing to do with what got us here.  Neither he nor his ideas have any credibility in light of the situation we face now and blaming him and his buddies I think is perfectly appropriate.  If they change their tune, I might back off, but they haven't and that gives us all license to scrutinize them closely - if not simply denounce them for their massive failures.

    We have to look back to get our bearings.  We have to adjust our thinking and start to rebuild on a new much stronger foundation.  The only way to do that is to understand what got us here in the first place.


    Odd (none / 0) (#26)
    by sj on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:42:11 AM EST
    I agree with both of you.  Or rather, both of your summaries :)

    "How we got here." (none / 0) (#45)
    by Fabian on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:49:36 PM EST
    Is not well understood by the public.

    Eight years of Bush policies certainly encouraged the problems we have now, but part of the problem is a very bipartisan attitude of irrational optimism (things will be okay because they've been okay so far, right?) and a reluctance to examine any potential problems too closely.  

    Various people predicted the problems and said so.  In particular, the housing bubble collapse was obviously inevitable.  The powers that be did nothing to deal with the problem, which didn't make it go away and didn't make it better, it just made it worse.

    I found it very frustrating that no one seemed to address the problems before they happened, preferring instead to make reassuring noises to keep the market happy.


    Couldn't agree more (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by ricosuave on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:34:42 AM EST
    Nothing wrong with the speech...it was a good speech.  But it was a speech.  To paraphrase Yoda:
    One does not talk about doing; One does or does not.

    I thought it was a so so speech (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:43:44 AM EST
    I feel somewhat confused because this is going to be a deep recession.  Recovery and growing out of it is going to be a slow go.  There was no acknowledgement of this reality.  Is it a timing thing or is it a type of denial?  I can deal with the first.....and well, I'm a mean person, so I can deal with the later also but I'd like to know WHICH it is.  The talk about our banking problems and the solutions sounded a tad over simplified bordering on a type of parental dishonesty to sheild us and calm our not in control of anything fears.  I liked his education goals but thought once again he was sort of in his own La La land asking us all to commit to a year of higher education in the midst of the beginning of the worst financial crisis most of us will ever face in our lifetimes.  It's hard to study for your midterm when you are due in bankruptcy court, it's even harder to pay for your credit hours.  A pay raise for the military?  I can't speak for any family with service members but this one, but really you guys.....I have healthcare, prices at the commissary are terrific and if I had done something incredibly stupid financially we can eat at the chowhall right now, and Red Cross helps military families in need and military families emergency funds that we all donate to pick up the slack after that.  If I lose my house because I bought too much house and went for an A.R.M. instead of my V.A. loan I'll have to live on post then I guess, I'm not seeing how the troops need a raise right now. But it probably isn't politically prudent to send them to war without one when everyone is talking about how broke we all are.  Fine, send me more money.....I'd like to think I'm slightly smarter than Bobby Jindal.

    If only UAW could inspire America (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:56:48 AM EST
    the same way camo and red, white, and blue do to get all misty eyed and insist on all healthcare needs being met so that people could do their jobs.

    Nice to hear... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:43:51 AM EST
    Obama talking about the deficit and debt....getting both under control is another matter...once the vampires get a taste of taxpayer blood, it's no easy task to get their fangs out of our neck.

    I hope he sharpened that scalpel mentioned during the campaign...we need a Steppin' Razor.

    (shaking head) (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Melchizedek on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:46:29 AM EST
    The thing I love about this site is that when Obama talks about problems "we" haven't dealt with he is pilloried for not singling out Bush and the Republicans. Then when he singles out Bush and the Republicans he is pilloried for having been a Senator during that time and not taking individual responsibility, not moving on and just "solving" the problem, etc.

    The question you guys should be asking is, "How can progressives build on the incredible numbers Obama is pulling in order to get the best policies we can out of his popularity? How can we use his popularity to get what we want?" It might help to imagine Hillary is President and that she's getting these numbers.

    What numbers? (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by ricosuave on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:01:57 AM EST
    His numbers are the same as every other president has at this point (and a few points below Jimmy Carter at the same point).  "These numbers" were had by Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II.

    This is just like those AMAZING youth vote numbers, which were the same percentage of the vote in this election than they were in all the past several elections.  Perhaps the problem is not the people on this site, but the people who still insist on pretending that Obama is something new and extraordinary.  And you have to stop pretending that the only thing wrong with Obama in my eyes is that he is not Hillary.  

    If he is as great as we have been told, I'll notice.  So far I am still waiting to find out.


    He went from the 60's to the 80's (5.00 / 0) (#25)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:25:55 AM EST
    last night in one poll I saw this morning.  That's actually pretty amazing.  I think the speech was very effective from that standpoint.  And I do think the question now is whether or not he can capture that momentum and turn it into real action.

    I think (none / 0) (#35)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:20:49 AM EST
    That was the percentage of people who liked the speech, as opposed to his overall approval rating.

    Here's one poll that has numbers in the 80's - but it's not his overall rating.

    And as of yesterday (pre-speech), Gallup (may be an outlier) had his approval rating below 60% for the first time. Other polls had him mid 60s' which is average for every other president in the last half century.

    I think the 80% approval rating you may have seen was among Democrats alone.


    I wasn't clear in my original (none / 0) (#42)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:53:42 AM EST
    post. I understood the poll that I saw to be a measure of support he had before the speech for his policies and a measure after the speech of the same.  If that was what I thought it was, that would mean to me that the speech itself was effective in that it moved more people into his column.  Of course, these are polls cited on TV and I always have a hard time finding those bits and pieces on the internets after the fact.

    Um what? (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:01:57 AM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#11)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:08:33 AM EST
    You lost me with the first part of your response but I agree with the second.

    "How can progressives build on the incredible numbers Obama is pulling in order to get the best policies we can out of his popularity? How can we use his popularity to get what we want?" I

    Everyone can give his speech a letter grade but the thing that will most help this country and Obama to be a success is if WE force him to do what we want.   It was liberal pressure that stopped Brennan from heading the CIA so why not use our platforms to actually push agenda instead of griping about how his speech was a B- or worse.
    The problem that I notice with one of the writers here is that they want Obama to fail so that they can say "I told you so." Asking if Obama wants to be like Jimmy Carter is absurd. Who wants to be like Jimmy Carter who is seen as a failed President? Does any President want to be considered a failure?

    Instead of griping all the time, do something to help bring about change.


    Heh, that writer does like to be right (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:17:52 AM EST
    but people like being wrong about as much they  politically like being the next Jimmy Carter so duh......really though

    The problem that I notice with one of the writers here is that they want Obama to fail so that they can say "I told you so."

    Gimmee a break please.  If Obama was as sensitive to constructive criticism as some of his fans are he would have never made it past 7th grade class president :)


    I don;t mind that comment (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:21:00 AM EST
    so long as she does what she says needs to be done in the rest of the comment.

    A lot of people practice metaphysics on me (they look into my soul to see what I really want) instead of addressing what I actually say. It's funny to me because the rest of the comment is pretty much right out of my handbook.


    Uh (none / 0) (#18)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:50:46 AM EST
    Don't you want him to be "sensitive to constructive criticism?" I certainly don't want him to dismiss it but comparing him to Jimmy Carter is not constructive criticism.  It may make one feel good to keep repeating it but what the hell is it going to do in terms of him enacting policy?

    Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:59:57 AM EST
    My Grandma Vera loved him, said he had the highest I.Q. of any president we ever had.  He is a fine man and a wonderful human being.  He has been working with University of Georgia on propagating a type of wood that we have begun to grow ourselves on our property this year that is light weight, waterproof, is a hardwood but grows extremely rapidly and once the tree is cut down it regrows itself from the remaining roots.  My husband loves woodworking and Carter has made furniture out of the trees in order to promote their growth and use.  Carter was also politically very ineffective due to always trying to make peace instead of policy.  It's just my take, but it seems that you are very emotional verses factual.  I don't experience Jimmy Carter as Satan.

    That's nice (none / 0) (#31)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:09:25 AM EST
    but the comparisons to Jimmy Carter here have not been flattering and that is my point.

    The comparisons to Jimmy Carter (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:42:52 AM EST
    are based on his single term as President and his approach and application of his leadership of that short time.  He attempted to negotiate time and again with those who never had any sort of notions of negotiating with him.  He was very ineffective while at the same time being kind, patient, decent, a credit to his race if only it could be only about how we carry and conduct ourselves.  It has been extremely fair to make presidential comparisons between Carter and Obama.  Both men give enormous amounts of air time to the importance of negotiating.  Both men speak a lot about their Christian faith.  Both men believe the good guys always eventually carry the day if only we believe, but in the real world some mornings are about getting out of bed for the fight.  Will Obama embrace the fight when we need to or will he end up attempting a last minute last ditch secret mission to save our countrymen that will fail because in our endless optimism we have never trained for anything that last minute, that covert, in the blinding sand and dust of the desert?  Just sayin

    I think Carter really believed in that outlook, (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by allimom99 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:31:54 PM EST
    not so sure Obama actuslly believes. We'll see if his actions match his words. So far, not so much IMO.

    Could you point to any comparisons (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:17:00 AM EST
    to Carter, as opposed to holding Carter as a dangerous possible end result?

    Yes, I think Carter was a terrible President.


    Multitasking (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by ricosuave on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:21:16 AM EST
    I am doing something AND griping,

    And I gave up wasting time defending my lack of Obama love long ago.  I am politically incorrect, and I am fine with that.  Bush supporters were OK with my not liking Bush...Obama supporters get really upset that I cannot see Obama's greatness.

    I don't like the iPhone, and I get the same kind of reaction from Apple-philes.  Perhaps I am just too iconoclastic for 21st century America.


    "do something to help bring about (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by tigercourse on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:31:50 AM EST
    change". Oh, God. I voted for the guy. Back when I had money I gave it to these crooks. I'd love it, love it, love it if I wasn't expected to pass the damn laws as well.

    Voting is just the beginning. (none / 0) (#17)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:48:17 AM EST
    Obama is still a politician at the end of the day and he is going to have to be pushed into enacting the policies that we want and need. Complaining about speeches may make one feel good but how is that going to force Obama to DO what he needs to be done to get this economy back on track?  

    I think Glenn Greenwald is an excellent example of someone instead of spending his time comparing Obama to the second coming of Jimmy Carter actually doing something to bring about change and holding Obama's feet to the fire constructively. There is  a reason why "unnammed officials" were snarky towards Glenn in an interview with Marc Ambinder--he's forcing them to change and I appreciate that.

    I wish I could say the same for others.


    There was so much pressure (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:06:00 AM EST
    on Obama to vote against that FISA bill last summer that his feet should have been in flames - but apparently, they are pretty much fire-repellant, which is why many of us do not believe that even if his feet were actually IN the fire, on some of the issues that are most important to us, that he would pay any attention.

    As for John Brennan, he may not be in the position he was originally slated for, but he's in the administration anyway, isn't he?  And he's conveniently in a position that did not require Senate confirmation.  Yeah, that pressure thing's really working well.


    Once again (2.00 / 1) (#30)
    by cal1942 on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:09:15 AM EST
    review the Roberts confirmation. When Obama was told he would pay electorally for voting to confirm Roberts he changed his mind.

    He didn't care about or seem to notice Robert's conservative philosophy.  He was impressed with Roberts' alleged intellect. That's the position of an elitist.


    Obama the elitist? (none / 0) (#39)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:44:13 AM EST
    Is this where you want to go? Really?

    What happened (1.00 / 1) (#51)
    by cal1942 on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 07:11:55 PM EST

    Is Brennan CIA director? (none / 0) (#27)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:06:35 AM EST
    I thought that was the main goal of opposing Brennan--people didn't want him as the head of the CIA with his background.  Maybe I was wrong.

    Look, if anyone thinks that Hillary would have been soo much better--and I think this is where this is going--I think you would have been sadly mistaken. I'm willing to bet that Hillary would have voted for FISA if she were the nominee as well.   The point is that these are politicians who are going to need to be pushed no matter what. Sometimes successfully other times not, but it is our job to do so in a constructive manner for the sake of our country.


    Hmmmmm (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:14:10 AM EST
    Look, if anyone thinks that Hillary would have been soo much better--and I think this is where this is going--

    I see absolutely no evidence in anything said that would indicate anyone but you was thinking about Hillary.  

    It's about Obama and Obama's history and Obama's speech and the faith some have in Obama. It would be really great if his strongest supporters could simply understand that what is said and thought about Obama really, truly is only about Obama.


    Um (none / 0) (#38)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:43:14 AM EST
    Anne didn't vote for Obama and how neither McCain or Obama was for yet Obama and Hillary were hardly different on the policies.  I think my analysis was fair given the commenter's history.

    I think your analysis (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:52:24 AM EST
    is cr@p.  

    And I think you may have been ObamaMama in another life.


    You are entitled to your opinion n/t (none / 0) (#43)
    by cotton candy on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:55:59 AM EST
    Brennan started out as Obama's top (5.00 / 0) (#40)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:48:22 AM EST
    campaign advisor on intelligence - maybe the pressure should have started there, but it didn't.  Apparently, Obama likes and trusts him, and that is why, when Brennan withdrew from consideration for CIA Director, Obama quietly made him Deputy National Security Advisor, a position that didn't require a grilling before the Senate or a vote to confirm him.  Guess the people's message was not received in full.

    No one has so much as mentioned Hillary Clinton's name in this discussion - except for you - and then you whip out your crystal ball to tell us that she would have voted for FISA and telecom immunity if she were the nominee.  Good one - can you tell me what the winning numbers will be in the Mega Millions drawing on Friday?

    The point is that Obama was pushed plenty then, and he didn't respond, except to condescendingly tell us that he knows so much more than we do and that's why he "had" to do it - or was the reason that it wasn't a perfect bill, but it was the best they could do?  We hear that a lot, too.

    He was pushed on Brennan, but there he is, firmly ensconced in the Obama administration.

    These are not the only examples of Obama not responding to the people, just part of a pattern.


    The idea that Obama can be moved with (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by tigercourse on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:21:18 AM EST
    pressure has yet to be proven. As mentioned bellow, Brennan is still around. And Summers is arguably more powerful now then when women's groups were complaining about him at Treasury. Obama will do what Obama wants as long as he is riding 60+ approval numbers and there isn't much anyone can do about it.

    I dont think you read the post. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Thanin on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:10:21 AM EST
    Whenever I hear Obama say that (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:57:52 AM EST
    he inherited this mess, my response is that he chose to run for president, and he made that choice not as Barack Obama, Private Citizen, but as Senator Barack Obama.  Senator Obama had countless opportunities on a range of issues, to show some leadership and establish a track record of doing something - anything - that went beyond talk and into the realm of action.  Senator Obama proved on several occasions that he was immune to public pressure, voting - or not - contrary to the majority of people supporting him.  He should not have been on the sidelines then, and he should not be on the sidelines now; this is his mess to fix now, and he has a choice to make: detach and distance himself, or stop with the lectures and rhetoric, roll up his sleeves and plunge into the middle of it, kick a$$ and take some names.

    After two years of speeches, the people know he can talk; what they still do not know is if he can translate all the talk into action that lives up to that talk.  Can he make the vision into reality?  Does he have the courage to be as bold in action as he is in rhetoric?  Does he understand that even if the actions he must take may not be pretty, may be difficult, and may be painful, that he can't shy away from taking them?

    Does he understand that his speeches should not, at this stage, have people thinking, "OK, that was nice - but now what?" but "thank God something's finally being done."


    A very good speech though (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by brodie on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 10:07:14 AM EST
    not a great one.   While more specifics would have been desirable, his address probably went over quite well with what I expect was a sizable viewing audience.  The reaction of Wall Street, almost living in another reality, is another matter ...

    Jindal in response just offered insincere GOP boilerplate platitudes about individualism being preferable to Big Gubmit -- the standard Hoover/Reagan spiel that the public is increasingly rejecting.

    As for FDR's excellent Oglethorpe speech:

    But timing is everything in life. FDR gave this historic speech in 1932, when he was an unannounced candidate for President. The 100 Days were not marked by great speeches, but by great actions, legislation and policy initiatives.

    Actually, he was an announced candidate by the time of that speech.  January 21, 1932:  FDR announces candidacy.  May 22:  Oglethorpe.  Late June 1932:  Dem convention.

    Further context:  Roosevelt had just lost, badly, in the MA primary against Al Smith and needed something different in order to jump-start his sputtering campaign.  A newsworthy left-leaning speech was decided upon.

    As for great speeches in his first 100 days, I'd argue the Inaugural Address was his great speech of that period, followed by his first and very successful Fireside Chat not long after taking the oath, the one where he talked frankly and plainly to the folks about banking.

    When the stock market re-opened after the firesider, it had its biggest single-day increase in history.

    That noted, the 100 days were indeed about legislative/exec doings rather than sayings.

    Avoiding class warfare (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by NealB on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:07:33 AM EST
    It still seems like Obama is insisting on a higher moral standard for everyone except the corporate hacks that are most corrupt and have done the most damage. High school students that don't graduate are guilty of letting down the country but was there a comparable indictment of corrupt bank and corporate CEOs?

    High school students that don't finish are children and it's hard to justify such a harsh criticism. Corporate CEOs have accepted positions that give them great power and huge reward: when will they be held accountable? They have not only let down their country; they have actively, irresponsibly, participated in its economic ruin.

    The only way I personally feel less worried (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:18:21 AM EST
    is when specific plans and data are offered about what the WH is going to do - on the housing crisis, banks, health care, environment, etc.

    It starts to feel deliberately vague after so many speeches without specifics.

    I don't think any of the lovely rhetoric has to be sacrificed either - it's possible to do both.

    I personally feel less worried when the market (none / 0) (#36)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:32:05 AM EST
    doesn't tumble after the president speaks.

    As of this moment, the DOW is down almost 150 pts again. The reason:

    Investors unimpressed by Obama speech
    Earlier this morning, investors seemed undecided about the credibility of government bailout programs -- despite the theme of hope in President Barack Obama's first address to Congress since becoming president.

    "While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," Obama said. "The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach," he said. "They exist in our laboratories and universities, in our fields and our factories, in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs, and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth."

    The more optimistic tone about the economy was a change from past speeches, when Obama was trying to rally support for his $787 billion economic stimulus package.

    He can make some feel good about what he said, but there's a segment of the population that he absolutely must inspire confidence in before they are going to keep their money moving the economy in a positive direction.


    The DJIA means nothing. (none / 0) (#46)
    by wurman on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 01:42:55 PM EST
    Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, Feb 11, 2009:
    Not enough clarity, they complained. Still no light at the end of the tunnel, bemoaned others. Like spoiled, petulant children, they demonstrated their dissatisfaction by driving stock prices down another 5 percent.

    By now, I hope you've learned enough not to be taken in by the self-serving floor patter. These guys won't be happy until the government agrees to relieve them of every last one of their lousy loans and investments at inflated prices, recapitalize every major bank and brokerage and insurance company on sweetheart terms and restore them to the glory days, so they can once again earn inflated profits and obscene pay packages by screwing over their customers and their shareholders.

    While the daily fluctuations of the stock markets are important indicators of investors' opinions, they are not a guage of success for the economy.  The movements do affect the net worth & some of the income for millions of people, but the stock index averages are not very meaningful in terms of banking & finance, jobs, & GDP.

    "Investors" are speculators, gamblers, who try to guess where their money might possibly breed & increase.  Not much there, hunh?


    So, the economic collapse was going to (none / 0) (#48)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 03:32:45 PM EST
    happen even if the stock market were currently sitting at 18,439?

    You keep on thinking the DJIA means nothing.


    Do you choose not to read? or can't. (none / 0) (#50)
    by wurman on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 05:22:55 PM EST
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at it's all-time high of 380.33 when the crash of 1929 took the USA into the Great Depression.

    The Great Recession of 1981-83 was perfectly preceded by the all time high, etc.

    And such is the case, actually, with all economic disasters.  Which should provide you with some form of data from which to make a conclusion.

    The DJIA is a meaningless indicator of economic health in the USA.  It follows the economy & then lags behind, way behind, as the real recovery takes place.

    The Obama administration, especially Summers, will be content to let the speculators dither & do what they do best---speculate.

    You just keep on thinking that the Oct. 9, 2007, all time high of 14,164.53 really meant something.  As you now know, it didn't.  The real economy had been heading into the tank for about 3 months.

    During the Reagan Recession, the DJIA hit an all-time high of 1024.05, & stayed around 1000 from mid-1981 until Jan. 1982, as interest rates climbed above 20 percent, unemployment reached 9 million out-of-work Americans, & both the banks & S&Ls were being bailed out.  Remember?  Or do you need to go read the economic history?

    Finally, the DJIA tanked in early 1983 at 776.92 almost exactly in the middle of the economy beginning to grow again.

    Just take a look at a DJIA historical chart, monthly is best, & superimpose the recessions.


    Some fact checking the speech (none / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 11:07:22 AM EST
    Can't believe this is actually posted on msnbc - I would have thought anything even slightly critical would have evaporated the site.

    Missed The Speech (none / 0) (#44)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 12:42:07 PM EST
    I agree that it is time for action, not talk so much. Bold persistent experimentation and the courage of the young sounds about right to me.

    What do you not know about the plan? (none / 0) (#49)
    by BigElephant on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 06:57:43 PM EST
    Curious what aspects of his plan are you unclear about?  I've asked this to a couple of Republicans I know and they couldn't tell me. Then I rattled off a few specifics and asked if that helped jog their memory.  It didn't, but then they decided to debate me on the specifics.  I'm fine with them knocking the specifics of the plan (their Republicans, what do you expect?), but knocking the specifics seems more like someone not doing their homework.