The president looked utterly refreshed tonight as he entered the great hall of Congress. Glamour was at its highest. But behind the glamorizing look and the media frenzy, Obama was straight forward in laying out his grand plan for the next two years. With signs that the recovery may finally be underway and the poll numbers are beginning to adjust, the occasion could not be more on time to offer the Commander-in-chief the opportunity to look ahead with gleeful smiles.
Obama seemed to suggest that the economic mess in the nation’s rear-view mirror is a thing of the past as “we live the information age, and the world will never be the same again.” The president went on to say that “now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in, [which] is not sustainable.”
Obama’s laundry list of things to accomplish for the next two years includes many hoot button items. Among them are education and infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Obama promised to fight for more competitiveness, which seemed to indicate more selective government spending and more sales of U.S. goods and services overseas. “At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else,” Obama said.
By cutting government spending, Obama agrees that tackling trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits is a national priority — but a long-range one, not one that needs to be taken on with the unemployment rate stubbornly stuck above 9 percent. He went on to propose extending for another two years the three-year partial freeze of domestic programs he suggested last year and also called for military spending cuts.
The Republican controlled Congress remains coy to the president’s proposal. Many of them think those cuts are quite insignificant, far less than the cuts House Republicans are pushing. “Let’s make sure what we’re cutting is really excess weight,” the president said. “Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine,” he continued.
Tonight’s speech is by all account a prelude to the next presidential election. While polishing his oratory demeanor and looking quite presidential, independent voters who helped win in 2008 were the prime target. The question is: will they respond “YES” this time? Will they really take the bait? Will the enthusiasm still be there? Many of those voters have criticized Obama for sacrificing them in his effort to please Republicans and Conservative blue dog Democrats. But tonight’s speech, one must say, was clearly a case to solidify his reshaped image as a builder of compromise and pledged a major job-building effort.
Obama has many things going for him these days, including the hibernation of Sarah Palin and her Tea Party Express since the tragic incident in Tucson, Arizona 2 weeks ago. “For the first time in a while, Obama has some wind at his back, something Republicans hadn’t counted on just a few months back. His approval ratings have climbed above 50 percent, higher than the mid-40s where Presidents Reagan and Bill Clinton found themselves at the same point in their first terms,” concluded commentators on Yahoo News.
If the trend continues and if the conventional wisdom dictates, Barak Obama seems poised to be reelected for a second term, according to many observers. Historically, the odds are always in favor of incumbent presidents, especially if the economy keeps improving or at least if voters think the economy is on the right track.
Obama’s momentum was triggered by progress he made in last year’s lame-duck session. In addition to the deal with Republicans on taxes and new stimulus spending, Obama won congressional approval of a bill to let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military and Senate ratification of the New START treaty with Russia.
On Afghanistan, Obama predicted victory over Al-Qaida on behalf of world security. On Tunisiia, Obama supports the people democratic rights to overthrow “a dictator” but said nothing on what took place in Egypt earlier today as thousands took to the streets on what they called a day of rage to demand the immediate downfall of the Mubarak regime.
If Ben Ali is a dictator, what makes Mubarak a democrat? Is it because he has always been an obedient ally to the US and a major recipient of US aid in the middle east? It is always the kind of double-standard in US foreign policy that earns the United States such an unpopular reputation abroad.