I am hearing criticism of the President that his speech last night was short on 'details.' That's fine. It was. But I think the criticism misses the point. America can't actually claim to know its details right now. Until we see the consequences of Iraq, and find the actual market value of our troubled assets, the details of our economy and our political strength are in question. What Obama really has to say is about ideas: old ideas are dead and tried; new ideas are necessary and responsible.
For example, watching last night and now reading the transcript of his speech, I was struck by the extent he lectured America's political elites for their behavior the past few decades. Especially here:
Now, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that for too long we have not always met these responsibilities, as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or to look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.
The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank.
We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before.
The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform.
Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for.
And though all of these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.
In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.
A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations...
Regulations -- regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well, that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.
Now is the time to act boldly and wisely, to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.
--If I hear him right, his 'better' ideas are comprehensive reform of the way we burn energy, the way we take care of our health, and the way we educate.
--The GOP is in some trouble. It is steadily becoming accepted knowledge that, as Obama points out, these are, at the very least, the best ideas coming out of Washington in quite some time. And these ideas directly contradict the anti-planning ethos of the Republican Party.
--I look forward to his budget, which I believe is released on Thursday.