S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Skimming reactions to the Oval Office Speech yields little lubrication for Presidential ego.

Standard news sources:  Views ranged from missed opportunity, to glittering generalities, to where's the beef.  In my own opinion, the President seemed surprisingly comfortable with the oval office format -- camera close up, speaking directly to his audience.  His vocal and emotional range seened natural to the material.  I thought it was a good speech, particularly the last section which pivoted to the need for passage of a clean energy/climate bill.
The Huffington Post headlined: "Obama's oil speech panned."  Selections from a number of widely read pundits' expressed negative opinions.
New York Times Analysis:  "It was not clear that this was one of those dramatic moments that alter the arc of a political crisis."
McClatchy Newspapers: "Obama offered few new specifics, however, reciting steps that have been taken toward plugging the hole and capturing the spilled oil.

Others:  Many with whom I generally agree thought the speech missed the mark in a variety of ways.  It is as if nothing he could have said would have come up to their expectations. People wanted to see strong leadership and inspiration, with very specific proposed interventions, legislative fixes, a timetable, etc.  What we got was a more familiar figure, pragmatic and willing to delegate, a president tuned in to the realities of what is only barely possible from the Senate.
The Reaction: Michael J.W. Stickings -- "We saw some toughness on BP and the oil spill tonight, but on the larger questions of how to transition America away from oil dependency to clean, alternative energy and how to address climate change in a meaningful way, we saw the same old President Obama, and, alas, that's just not good enough anymore."
Twitter postings:
  1. Katrina vandenHeuvel: "Not one of great Oval Office addresses/ Maybe Obama should have channeled JFK? He says he's one of his heroes/"
  2. Joan Walsh: "Just words: Obama's Oval Office speech didn't do it for me"
  3. Lynn Sweet: "Obama makes nice Oval Office speech, but is the BP well capped?"
  4. Chris Hayes: "I don't mean to say he shouldn't have given the speech: I'm just saying there's only so much a speech can do in this situation."
  5. David Corn: "I don't believe the by-the-numbers speech changes much. Folks will judge what O does, rather than what he says. #BP #oilspill"
  6. Chris Cillizza: "President Obama's Oval Office Address: First Thoughts"   A subsequent post concluded, ". . . in bashing BP while also pushing hard for a comprehensive energy package to be passed through Congress, Obama and his senior advisers are hoping to show the public that they are back on offense on the issue."
  7. A. Rascal: "having hit numerous home runs w/ speeches, only a matter of time B4 Obama struck out w/ 1; not a referendum on his presidency."

What do I think?  The people of our nation have been badly battered in the past couple of years.  They are rightly anxious, angry and impatient for things to turn around. Moreover, there are  11 lost crew members off the exploded drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, untold miles of spoiled shoreline and ruined water columns.  I feel sad that President Obama has no magic wand to shut off a gusher thousands of feet under the ocean, to bring back the dead sea creatures in the Gulf, or the dead grasses on the barrier islands.  His administration has been unable to get everyone a job, to force greedy people to be generous and accountable, or to mend dashed hopes and dreams.  A deep sense of injustice and unfairness permeates the body politic.  Left and Right remain separated from each other, mistrustful and mostly unable to find common ground.
We should not make the mistake of expecting one man to lead us out of the swamp.  Each and every one of us must decide what we can do to make it better for ourselves and for the rest of those needing help.  And then get about doing it.  We are not helpless in this, nor should we become hopeless about it.

Reference: The Huffington Post: Obama's gulf oil speech - full text and video.

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