Obama's post-Tucson State of the Union address was nothing if not vague — a hope-infused vision of American revival short on details of how simultaneous cutting and spending might come to pass.
Mr. Potter, I could not disagree more with your negativity. The speech was not intended to litigate the issues, but to bring them into focus in a realistic, pragmatic and motivating manner, to inspire concensus and healthy debate!
In one hour the President brought the hopes, dreams, aspirations and fears to the Congress in an inspiring, moving, even at times compelling reach for the centre of American politics, with his avowed warning that both Democrats and Republicans can fix their problems and succeed together or not at all. Blending history, and political threatre with broad strokes and finely tuned caution, the President vowed to :
- veto any bill sent to his desk with a single earmark (thereby saving millions)
- send a budget to congress that will contain funds to build and re-build transportation and technology infrastructure
- work with Congress to amend, and not repeal the Health Reform Art, removing bookkeeping irritants from small business
- create 100,000 new math and science teachers so that American can catch up to the best in the world
- make no excuses for keeping poorly performing teachers now in the classroom
- work with Congress to cut the costs of both social security and medicare, but not on the backs of the most vulnerable
- reform government by eliminating duplication, using some examples like 12 agencies dealing with exports, one agency dealing with salmon in fresh water, and another when salmon are in salt water, and then adding, with perfect comedic timing, "I understand it gets even more complicated when they are smoked!"
- freeze for the next five years the 12% of the budget that deals with discretionary spending
- support Secretary Gates in his goal of reducing Pentagon spending, by not purchasing what is not needed
- vowing to end the tax break for the most wealthy Americans
- promote with goverment initiatives, the kind of innovation and initiative that spurred one Ohio drilling company to produce drills that helped to safe some 30 miners trapped underground in Chile
- continue to fund Race to the Top, an initiative designed to improve school performance, whose specific proposals come from state governors and legislators of both political stripes
- bring all combat troops home from Iraq and start the draw-down of troops from Afghanistan later this year
- stand beside all people everywhere who are seeking an end to tyranny, citing Tunesia and Sudan where voting has occurred on the same land that has known only fighting for generations
- strengthen NATO through enhanced defensive initiatives
- visit South America in March to grow opportunities for trade and thereby American jobs with treaties that protect both environment and workers
- reduce both debt and deficit through co-operative efforts with Congress, acknowledging there will be "debates over every single clause in every single bill" and "it will be messy" and "it will not be easy" but that is the essence of the American democracy and
- noted not a single person in the chamber would choose to live in a different country to which everyone stood and applauded
Obama has absorbed his 'licks' from the shellacking his party took in the November elections, and appointed key advisors from the centre of American politics, and set the table for some serious negotiations and debates with the Congress in a spirit of harmony and shared responsbility.
Every country in the world would be well served to have such a remarkable, intelligent, inspiring and focused leader of its government. And the world should be thankful that his like still choose to aspire to the highest offices of the country, when the sniping and the back-biting and even the rancour and danger of public office were never more evident than in the black and white ribbons worn by virtually everyone in the chamber to honour Gabriel Giffords for whom a single seat was left vacant during the speech while she recovers in a Houston rehab centre from an assassin's bullet.
Contrast the content and the spirit of the Obama speech with this from the Associated Press, in Toronto Star, January 26, 2011
OAK LAWN, ILL.—A car salesman in suburban Chicago has been fired for refusing to remove a Green Bay Packers tie that he wore to work the day after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to advance to the Super Bowl.
John Stone says he wore the Packers tie to work Monday at Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn to honour his late grandmother, who was a big Green Bay fan.
The sentimental gesture did not impress his boss, Jerry Roberts.
Roberts says the dealership has done promotions involving the Bears and he was afraid the tie could alienate the team’s fans and make it harder to sell cars.
Roberts adds that Stone was offered five chances to take off the tie but he refused.
“I don’t know why he did it, I really don’t,” Stone said. “That’s hurtful. I thought I was a good salesman.”