National Commentary

Obama Goes On The Offensive

bentonmugPresident Obama was at his oratorical best in Ohio yesterday, delivering a barn-burner of a speech touting his new economic initiatives and slamming his GOP foes for their obstructionism.

bentonmugPresident Obama was at his oratorical best in Ohio yesterday, delivering a barn-burner of a speech touting his new economic initiatives and slamming his GOP foes for their obstructionism.

Pundits have called it his most powerful and impassioned delivery since taking the White House, and as one who stood about 20 feet from him when he gave one of those during the campaign, I can tell you it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Its force is like the air turbulence generated by a (pre-injury) Steven Strasburg fast ball. It veritably bowls you over.

When matched with his best high-minded ideals, it is a game-changer, and the Democrats couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off for their two-month sprint to overcome the odds against them in the November mid-term elections.

As President Obama laid out the rationale for his new initiatives, the extension of the middle class tax cut and fresh resources for job-creating national infrastructure development and repair.

It left the official GOP with nothing to oppose him with except its obsession with for maintaining tax cuts for the rich.

The Republicans will be saddled, as a result of Obama’s powerful initiative, with nothing but a rehash of the policies of the failed Bush administration. While unemployment remains unexpectedly high, at least Obama can now be appreciated for taking aggressive, pro-active measures to address the problem. On the other hand, his GOP counterparts are simply whining about protecting the interests of the wealthiest two percent of Americans.

Obama’s speech was delivered like a laser-beam to the very support base that rode him into the White House two years ago, and for good reason.

While the latest Gallup Poll shows support for GOP and Democratic candidates, overall, among likely voters about 50-50, it also shows that the backers of the GOP are twice as enthused about the election than their pro-Democratic counterparts. Obama’s speech was clearly designed to fire up his base.

The details of his new plans and the GOP reaction could have been summed up in 10 minutes, but Obama took 40 minutes of relentless, passionate oratory to make his case.

He culminated it with a historically sweeping, widespread appeal to the best in the nation’s traditions. “This country is emerging from an incredibly difficult period in its history, an era of irresponsibility that stretched from Wall Street to Washington and had a devastating effect on a lot of people,” he said. “We have started turning the corner on that era, but part of moving forward is returning to the time-honored values that built this country: hard work and self-reliance; responsibility for ourselves, but also responsibility for one another.” He continued,

“It’s about moving from an attitude that said ‘What’s in it for me’ to one that asks, ‘What’s best for America? What’s best for all our workers? What’s best for all our businesses? What’s best for our children?’

“These values aren’t Democratic or Republican. They aren’t conservative or liberal values. They’re American values. As Democrats, we take pride in what our party has accomplished over the last century: Social Security and the minimum wage; the GI Bill and Medicare; Civil Rights and worker’s rights and women’s rights.

“But we also recognize that throughout history, there has been a noble Republican vision as well, of what this country can be. It was the vision of Abraham Lincoln, who set up the first land grant colleges and launched the transcontinental railroad; the vision of Teddy Roosevelt, who used the power of government to break up monopolies; the vision of Dwight Eisenhower, who helped build the interstate highway system. And yes, the vision of Ronald Reagan, who despite his aversion to government, was willing to help save Social Security for future generations.

“These were serious leaders for serious times. They were great politicians, but they didn’t spend all their time playing games or scoring points. They didn’t always prey on people’s fears and anxieties. They made mistakes, but they did what they thought was in the best interest of their country and its people.”

Obama drew a standing ovation with the line contrasting the current GOP obstructionism by saying, “They might think this will get them where they need to go in November, but it won’t get our country where it needs to go in the long run.”


Nicholas Benton may be emailed at