I must have missed the part of the brainwashing where we all learned that President Obama is a great speaker. I already had lost interest in his much-anticipated economic recovery speech by the time he started repeating, like an old-school door-to-door salesman, that Congress should pass his plan Right Now!
What was interesting was watching the faces of Speaker of the House Rep. Boehner and Vice President Biden as they gauged the reactions of the crowd and adjusted their own reactions accordingly.
Boehner clearly was walking a fine line between leading and following. He obviously didn't want to appear to initiate any raucous, impolite over-reactions among his Republican minions. But he also couldn't lag too far behind their applause or, worse yet, clap alone, at key points in the president's speech. He must have been exhausted by the time the president finally left the podium.
The vice president seemed a little more at ease. He probably would have been happy to clap standing for the entire speech. But one of the president's political handlers must have given him some "clapping points" before the speech. You could almost see the instructions scrolling across his forehead as he sometimes obviously forced himself to only clap once or twice.
The president's speech was certainly not the rallying cry that will lift the economy out of its doldrums. Neither was it a drum-beater that will
In the end, that may be all the president needs to do. Anyone over the age of 11 certainly doesn't expect a single policy or plan to straighten out the crazy mess our national economy has become. And the newest chapter of the ongoing saga of the partisan warfare that has dominated national politics since Nixon choppered off the White House lawn in disgrace won't allow much movement for either side to make a touchdown play and rescue us.
The economy will straighten out when it straightens out. It might be when somebody, somewhere, finally closes the books on all those junk mortgages the big American banks wrote for 25 years. Maybe it will happen when the golf ball that is the Baby Boomer demographic eventually passes through the national job snake and into retirement, opening up a flood of jobs for younger Americans. When whatever needs to happen does happen, and I don't believe for a second that anyone can honestly claim to know exactly what that is, the economy will come back to life.
President Obama is a political mastermind. He rode the anti-war fervor to office and then promptly jettisoned the anti-war crowd. His administration wisely stayed out of the way of former President Bush's players and allowed them to do what they had to do in order to continue to keep America safe. But his maneuvering didn't limit itself to the war. He has jumped the progressive ship and paddled to the middle on almost every major environmental and regulatory issue that has come before him.
I didn't vote for Obama in 2008. I think I will in 2012. He came to Washington prepared to lead and has done just that. He hasn't led the country where the far left progressive branch of the Democrat Party wants him to, so they're upset. And he certainly hasn't led the country where the screwball Republican Tea Partiers want him to, so they're upset. Hence, his dismal poll ratings.
But those poll ratings are misleading. Where better for him to be more than a year out from the election than scraping bottom? He has nowhere to go but up. And if last week's first national Republican presidential candidate debate is any indication of the quality of the opposition Obama will face, he will have no problem rising rapidly in the polls before long.
Bill Donovan writes regularly for The Advocate. Feedback is welcome at email@example.com.