The characterizations of Obama’s address yesterday seem for the most part to be in agreement, though the participating parties use different words to describe it. Democrats are calling it bold, assertive, and provocative, while Republicans say it was confrontational, adversarial, and harshly ideological. Both are calling it partisan. And Politico said something about dodging entitlements, which means they must have ended up at the wrong speech – so everything is as it should be. Democrats are unnecessarily thrilled and Republicans are unrealistically pissed, so Obama must have done something right. One important Congressman even thought partisanship had been suspended for the day, so he might have also been at the wrong speech, or may have left his GOP decoder ring in his other pants.
Here I am simply posting a couple of excerpts – from the Washington Post‘s full text – that I found most moving, important, and memorable, in the context of great oratory. I do not claim a referendum, a renewed confidence in Obama, or anything close to a hint of optimism that he will come through on everything he said. I do have faith in the perseverance of the better angels of our nature, and I do believe in Obama’s vision for the future. Whether it comes to fruition, in whole or in part, is another matter. But I hope it does, and its gravitas and profound language gives my skepticism a much-needed pause.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great.
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Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune … we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.