NOTE: Due to a variety of conflicts TMV does not have a post on it yet by any of its writers on President Barack Obama’s jobs speech before a joint session of Congress. Yours truly drove 500 miles today and was unable to post. So here is our Quote of the Day: part of Andrew Sullivan’s take on Obama’s speech from his live blogging. Other posts will likely follow on the speech over the next 24 hours.
7.57 pm. This was also a speech aimed directly at his own party – rallying the troops, creating a framework for the campaign ahead, betting that things are bad enough that the infrastructure spending and the tax cuts will not alienate debt-concerned independents. In style, the last thing it was was professorial. This was a blunt, potent, confident attempt to win back the hearts of a disillusioned base, while appealing to the center in ways Republicans may feel a little leery of rejecting, given their already deep reputation for obstructionism.
Game on, in other words. Except this isn’t a game. And any politician who acts like it is in the next year or so will pay a price.
7.49 pm. This was indeed a speech directed at independents and also at those who fear that America is in terminal decline. It was rooted in patriotism; it was framed to portray Obama as the pragmatic centrist he actually is. And it was not dishonest – these are the choices, short-term and long-term, that we have to make. And we should not be required to wait for another year and a half for action.
One key will be how it’s paid for. It seems that Obama is simply insisting that the super-committee should add $450 billion to its remit for long-term spending reductions, including Medicare. I cannot imagine the House GOP agreeing to that. Another key is exactly what infrastructure projects are indeed “shovel-ready” enough to help in the next year or two. But the general idea of building permanent infrastructure as a way to use currently idle labor seems appealingly simple to me – and a classic Depression era maneuver.
7.46 pm. Wow. A threat to take this vision across the country if the GOP doesn’t cooperate now. That’s Truman-speak. After months of mild attempts to get Republicans to agree, he hasn’t caved, and he hasn’t demonized them. But he has now upped the ante, and has new fire in his belly. If he can succeed in getting a bulk of the jobs bill through and if the super-committee doesn’t fail, we have a chance to turn this economy around.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.