Obama’s First Major Presidential Address and Jindal’s Response

February 25, 2009

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Obama gave his first “big” speech since becoming President last night, and it seemed to be a successful address. He touched on most of the pressing matters facing this country today- – health care reform, the economic recession, education, the needed deficit reversal and budget reform, troop withdrawal from certain areas and the bank situation involving the need for expanded flow of credit.

I admit I was an Obama supporter from almost the beginning and that unlike the general consensus of folks who seem to say that their opinion of the stimulus package is one of” not sure, too soon to tell “ (which frees them up to be for it if it works or against it if it doesn’t), I feel it is a great move full of potential and I feel that many, hopefully most, of its parts will be successful. Having said that, I still am leery of the political machine as a whole in Washington. I feel Obama has great plans and could institute great progressive change, IF GIVEN THE CHANCE. See, when FDR ushered in his sweeping reforms that brought the U.S. out of the great depression and regulated areas that for far too long had been neglected, he received almost universal support, unprecedented power and positive hand-in-hand work from all sides. Judging by the GOP in this day and age and the average armchair economic and political “experts” at home, not to mention “news” organizations like FOX news, it’s doubtful Obama will get anywhere near that kind of support. The nation’s appearing to be very supportive of Obama and his administration so far and they seem to be placing a great deal of hope in what he is attempting to do, yet there is a constant murmur of the importance to be “bi-partisan.” I can’t help but think that this is really just code for “more conservative” at best or a settling on mediocrity at worse. When Bush was president over the last 8 years there was really no attempt at any “bi-partisan” decisions. It was full speed ahead on the modern version of the GOPs methods including trickle down economics, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, the repeal of environmental safeguards, the almost complete stop on funding for scientific and medical research, an ever expanding military budget, a health care system ran by profit seeking organizations in a highly competitive (and greedy market)…I could continue for pages, but I think it’s clear that practices like these ran unchecked and heavily supported by other Republicans during the Bush administration. Very little ear was turned in the direction of the Democratic party or any citizen who was even slightly a political moderate, progressive or liberal. The past 8 years were the GOP trying it their own way, and we see how well their way has worked. Now, Obama has a chance to try things in a politically progressive manner and the voices are loudly crying out for his administration to make “bi-partisan” decisions—in other words, balance his progressive plans with a bit of the old policy styles that have failed us for 8 years. Throughout the years every political liberal has had to make concessions and become first a moderate, then ultimately a borderline conservative to simply make it in public office. The true radical, progressive liberal methods are often shelved because congress, the senate and the “armchair “experts (not to mention the lobbyists, the insurance companies, Wall Street and the CEO’s of the nation) have forced them to be.

I have faith that Obama has a clear and good vision of what needs to be done. I feel that for the first time in a few decades the average citizen in America is in support of those styled plans. For the first time in decades, there is an actual chance to move away from prehistoric, prejudiced, spirit crushing modes of politics into something positive, life affirming and opportunity expanding. We can actually see a renewed emphasis on science and education—more average folks may begin to view education as important, worthwhile and attainable. We may see policies that seek to end discrimination and prejudices—to give basic and undeniable rights to people of all races, national origins, genders and sexual orientations that have been denied them even into the 21st century.
We may see a true overhaul and reform of the crumbling, destructive, debt inducing and inadequate health care system that exists in the U.S. today. We may see environmental laws that folks like Teddy Roosevelt emphasized make their return to this country.
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Viewers of last night also got to see the new Palin, that is the new “up and comer” GOP mascot detailing that they too can be youthful and diverse, the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.  His response to the speech? Tow the party line: He urges us not to “saddle future generations with debt,” by “spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.” Hmm…we don’t need quality education, affordable healthcare, a free flowing system of attainable credit, safe and functional highways, roads and bridges built and repaired in a way that will also create thousands of new jobs, new and safe renewable energy and a strong push away from foreign oil dependency, regulations and practices that protect the environment for the safety of future generations, the creation of new and lasting jobs…all of these things, all covered in the stimulus proposal and thus most of these things are what Jindal says we “don’t need.” Of course the package bears a heavy price tag, one which Republicans seem to think will burden future generations for years. Yet at least some of these expenses are successful, future generations will have ample opportunities in which to pay it back, opportunities that the current direction has been leading away from. The path we have been on in this nation would have left future generations living in an unsafe and polluted environment, dependant on foreign oil to the extent that national security is null and void, unable to afford health care and thus living with a shorter life expectancy, with very few jobs to choose from and with very little education. Heck, the supporters of Reagan and his policies in the ‘80s saddled future generations with debt and disparity due to a lack of education and little job choice. Those policies created ghettoes and are largely responsible for a flood of crack cocaine and the spread of AIDS since research and acknowledgement of such things was missing. See, the system that has been put in place has left those of middle and lower class lacking serious opportunities in this nation, yet the upper class has been able to continue their extreme success down throughout the generations. This new plan could very well level things off enough to where all children have a chance at a decent future– if the “price tag” that awaits future generations will coincide with broader opportunity, better healthcare, more education and fuller lives, I think it’s one well worth accepting.

It’s noteworthy as well that we managed to apparently see the support of certain plans by different politicians. John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Mitch McConnell all got camera close ups at moments in which they appeared to grimace and disagree with statements being made, as well as at moments in which they seemed to be grudgingly agreeing with Obama. Interestingly, when Obama pointed out certain events he has already accomplished in his first days in office, he mentioned providing thousands of poverty stricken children with healthcare that didn’t have any before, the cameras displayed a large group of Republicans that remained seated and appeared to be frowning heavily. I suppose even something as noble and compassionate as that isn’t universally appreciated, which goes to show how difficult it is to implement progressive politics and appease staunch political conservatives simultaneously.

Last of all, Obama did indeed make a gaffe that has made the press already– The U.S. did not invent the automobile, Germany did. I guess we can all benefit from more education each and every day.

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