February 25, 2009

Obama's Address and Real Patriotism

Just a few quick reactions to Obama's address before congress last night, and the Republican response from Governor Jindal.

I thought Obama mad a very strong speech which was extremely optimistic considering the dire threat we face, relying on the efforts of dedicated Americans, which he clearly considers to be the real strength of America. The part of his speech that most impressed me:

"It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country - and this country needs and values the talents of every American." - Remarks of President Barack Obama - Address to Joint Session of Congress Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

A call to patriotism manifesting itself as self-improvement but with a specific recommendation and goal. When was the last time we had something as clear as that in presidential leadership? Not to dwell, but the most focused patriotic recommendation we had with the last administration was to go out and spend, which is part of what put us in our current predicament.

Of course, I believe strongly in shoring up the educational infrastructure to meet the demand. Our family is dedicated, in a number of ways, to education.

I was a lot less impressed with the Republican response. I was surprised that they chose to go with a largely partisan speech, rather than one with any specific ideas. Not once did Governor Jindal suggest what Republicans would be adding to the president's effort. At times he seemed to be talking about what he thought would happen once Republicans are back in control, something we've had enough of over the last couple of decades.

It seemed as though whoever wrote the speech didn't read or hear the president's speech, since it criticized a negative tone that wasn't present in Obama's words.

Why didn't the Republicans choose someone who is in the process of helping to solve these problems in the federal government? Why go with a governor? And why Governor Jindal?1 Wasn't any Republican member of congress able to speak with credibility on this subject? I suppose not.

On the other hand, this response was confusing, coming from a governor who is currently playing politics by threatening to refuse stimulus money. One might think this is an ideological stance, possibly even admirable, and consonant with his declaration that we don't need a lot of federal spending if it weren't for the fact that Louisiana has been a huge recipient of Federal money in the wake of Katrina. They've benefited greatly from the generosity of the American people as we diverted money from other deserving states to Louisiana where the need was great. It's a bit ungrateful to throw it back in our faces by denigrating government spending as part of the solution. When your actions don't match your bluster, I cry "bullshit."

And taking up the mantle of fiscal responsibility is a joke, after President Bush never refused to sign a spending bill that the Republican congress sent him, no matter how much pork was in it.

The icing on the cake, however, was that he would make any reference to health care reform. Perhaps this underscores why no congressional Republican could have given a response, considering they knew Obama would be covering health care. Jindal spoke as if the Republicans had a plan all along, and that they simply opposed government control of health care. Where was that plan before the government was so deep in debt? What action did they take on health care when they were in control, other than to try to stall the bill that extended health care benefits to unprecedented numbers of under-insured American children?

In my opinion, the Republicans would have been better off with no response, or perhaps Governor Jindal could have ended his speech once he was done giving his brief autobiography.

I was less than impressed.

We have a president who is ready to lead, and is not backing down from some extremely difficult challenges. He's asking us to rise to the challenge, too. I think we owe it to ourselves, and our country, to heed his words. Let's seek out ways to better ourselves, make ourselves a more valuable workforce/citizenry. Let's seek ways to help others become that. I know my friends are up to the task, because I am constantly surrounded by people who want nothing less than to spread knowledge about science, history, art, heritage, mathematics, music, technology, philosophy -- to spread a love of learning.

I, among them, am glad to have the support of our president in this world view and this ongoing effort.

1. While I have no problem personally with Governor Jindal, and he certainly seems like a pleasant fellow, his credibility suffers with me a bit, considering that he's a creationist and a Bible literalist. He has been quoted as supporting the teaching of creationism (as intelligent design) in schools, calling that "the very best science." That shows a dangerous willingness to filter reality to his own liking.

Technorati :

Posted by James at February 25, 2009 9:31 AM
Create Social Bookmark Links

After hearing for weeks what a smart guy Jindal is and how he's a rising star in the party and their answer to Obama, I was astounded at that horrible response. Like you said, the content was criticizing things Obama never said, making astounding swipes at science, and the tone was so fake-folksy and condescending as to be insultimg to the intelligence of any viewer who's not a die-hard FOX partisan.

If this guy is the future of the Republican party, we have 2012 and 2016 sewn up.

Posted by: David Grenier at February 25, 2009 11:07 AM

Oh, and I meant to include that fact that I really think the Republicans are so fucking stupid that the whole reason they like him is because he isn't white. They think that's the key to winning.

Posted by: David Grenier at February 25, 2009 11:08 AM

It's a troubling trend for me. It seems like they are trying to find the most palatable packaging for an evangelical candidate that they can. They seem to want to mainstream these ideas and make them the core of the Republican party instead of a fringe group. If Palin and Jindal are the future of the Republican party, we're all in trouble, not just the Republicans.

Posted by: briwei at February 25, 2009 12:01 PM

They do seem to want to make the fringe of the party the new face of "Republican" rather than put a moderate face on the party.

Posted by: James at February 25, 2009 12:25 PM

Oh, that thing from Jindal was supposed to be a "response"? Because his tone and cadence sounded like someone reading a bedtime story to little kids.

Posted by: Julie at February 25, 2009 2:08 PM

If it was the 80's we would have been saying "Where's the beef???"

Funny you should mention "bed time story." I literally fell asleep and had to re-watch it on DVR when I woke up this morning.

Posted by: James at February 25, 2009 2:20 PM

The Health Care bit from Jindal jumped out at me too, but because it sounded as though he was resusitating and giving full credence to the (thoroughly disproven) Rush assertion that the stimulus package = "the gov'mint gonna tell my doc whut to do" meme we heard a lot earlier this month.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at February 25, 2009 3:24 PM

I wrote a letter to Governor Jindal some months ago pleading for him to reconsider his attempt to inject creationism into the science curriculum of his state. It feel on ignorant, deaf, ears.

The future of the Republican Party looks remarkably like the past of the Republican Party. Getting in bed with evangelist whackos is not the road to any sort of future we can call American, IMHO.

Posted by: Chuck S. at February 26, 2009 5:19 PM

It's the fresh new face of the same old crazy!

Posted by: James at February 26, 2009 5:44 PM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved