I liked Obama’s speech. This will be among the most challenging times in US history by all accounts and I think we were right to pick somebody who can speak and act powerfully dealing with both the rich and the poor here and also around the world. We often do not realize how important our international image can be as a strategic advantage against the enemies of the USA, and Obama’s confidence earns a lot of respect internationally and will earn us alliances we would not otherwise get. More importantly his overall sensibilities turn moderates away from extremists and towards our more human approaches to international politics and internal human rights issues.
Although I was hoping for more specifics in this speech I think the Obama team must have felt the country needed a shot of spirited pride and enthusiasm more than an economic lecture. We probably need more of both, and we certainly need a stimulus plan that focuses more directly on massive job creation rather than what I think will be in phase one far too much Govt busy work that does not add enough productivity to justify the costs. Many critics think the plan is to use this crisis to bring in the new health care system and other things that will cost huge sums and I think there is some justification for that. Of course it is incredibly hypocritical for many to only now start jumping on the anti government spending bandwagon. As Obama critic Charles Krauthammer suggested yesterday the Republicans abandoned their core value of fiscal restraint long ago, and have a long way to go to regain credibility in that area.
I’m a fan of Louisiana Governor but his talk last night was almost a charicature of the alternative way forward even though I think on balance his approaches are probably more in line with my own thinking on how to dig ourselves out of the hole – ie work more within our means and with an eye to smaller government.