Thursday, April 14, 2011

Obama's Budget Speech

I was working so I missed the live delivery and I've been catching up on the reaction this afternoon. Predictably the Wall St. Journal editorial savaged Obama's budget speech for being so mean to Republicans and hurting their delicate feelings. Went to great lengths, with great self-righteous fury, to incorporate every lunatic fiction the GOPers successfully seeded into the public narrative for the last two years.

Blue Texan had a great answer to that and to answer Steve Benen's question, the media hated it because it doesn't fit into their prepared templates. No Democrats in disarray. No ZOMG!!!11!!1, the liberals hate it and will desert Obama in droves in 2012. Management didn't provide a MadLibs sheet for Obama gets the best of the GOPers.

I finally read the full transcript. I liked it a lot. This was a bold and courageous statement, especially in this social climate. I really can't decide on my favorite excerpts. Pulled out too many as I was reading it. But I haven't seen anyone mention this one. I liked how he turned the exceptionalism argument around in criticizing the Ryan Roadmap to Ruin.
I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic. It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them.

Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. They’re scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education. Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but on biofuels. And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the American people, the United States of America -– the greatest nation on Earth -– can’t afford any of this.
Subtle but strong, I thought. And then later the followup gently reinforces the shift.
The America I know is generous and compassionate. It’s a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves, but we also take responsibility for each other; for the country we want and the future that we share. We’re a nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI Bill and we saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives. That’s who we are. This is the America that I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit our investment in our people and our country.
And the closer perfectly reclaimed patriotism -- for everyone.
But no matter what we argue, no matter where we stand, we’ve always held certain beliefs as Americans. We believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can’t just think about ourselves. We have to think about the country that made these liberties possible. We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. And we have to think about what’s required to preserve the American Dream for future generations.

This sense of responsibility -- to each other and to our country -- this isn’t a partisan feeling. It isn’t a Democratic or a Republican idea. It’s patriotism.
Yes, I know words, even eloquently delivered, are not policy. However, you need words in order to redirect the national conversation and create a new syntax for the policy. They were the right words and the right place to start. But one speech won't be enough.

Addendum: If you also missed it live, Moderate Voice has the full video. I haven't been able to get it to load but I'm guessing it's just my computer.]

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