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Parsing Obama's Speech on the Economy

I wrote yesterday about how effective President Obama was in connecting most of the dots regarding his short-term and long-term economic agendas in his mid-day speech.

Peter Baker writes in the New York Times: "Skeptics, including some in his own party, have questioned whether it makes sense for Mr. Obama to focus on expanding health care coverage, curbing greenhouse gases and other priorities when jobs continue to disappear at a dizzying rate, the banking sector remains in limbo, the auto industry is hanging over the precipice and the federal budget deficit is soaring.

"Mr. Obama used the address to link those disparate issues and present an integrated vision for the future of American capitalism when the recession eventually ends. He defended himself against those who accuse him of bankrupting the nation and those who argue that he should be more aggressive about taking over banks and spending even more money."

Jim Puzzanghera and Michael Oneal write in the Los Angeles Times: "Already facing push-back in Congress on his overall economic strategy, Obama was effectively laying down a marker: He will fight for his ambitious agenda and argue that his opponents are putting long-term recovery at risk."

It seems like left-leaning bloggers each had their favorite parts of the speech.

Alex Koppelman blogs for Salon, calling it "one of the best explanations of the economic crisis and his administration's response that the president has given so far.

"Perhaps the best part of the address was Obama's explanation for the genesis of the crisis."

David Neiwert blogs for Crooks & Liars: "[T]he harsh fact is that we can't solve the problems, and prevent their repeat, without understanding the nature of the mistakes that caused them.

"Obama gets this, of course. So today in his speech on the economy, he tackled it head on."

James Fallows blogs for the Atlantic: "Obama crafted the message with an intellectual thoroughness and emotional steadiness that I think will impress its real audience: not the students sitting at Georgetown or those like me watching live, but the politicians, financiers, and members of the commentariat who will read the text and respond after a little while. He showed he was aware of criticisms and was willing to state them in recognizable form before offering his rebuttal."

Steve Benen blogs for the Washington Monthly that "the president offered something along the lines of a fireside chat, which happened to be delivered from a podium in a crowded room...

"I was struck by the ways in which the president wants Americans to understand how terribly wrong Republicans are."

Matthew Yglesias blogs for "What's disappointing the incredibly vagueness about what will happen if stress tests prove that banks need additional government capital."

But, he writes: "I liked Obama's capsule explanation of the paradox of thrift."

American Prospect blogger Ezra Klein couldn't pick just one favorite part: "I've been trying to think of what to say about Barack Obama's economic speech today and have concluded that I shouldn't say much of anything, save this: Read it. The whole thing. Even though it's long."

From the right, Red State blogger Erick Erickson took on Obama's appropriation of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Obama likened the boom-and-bust economy he inherited to a house built on sand and the future U.S. economy he's inventing to one built on a rock.

Erickson writes: "The 'rock' is Christ and the Word. The 'sand' is this reality — the one where Barack Obama is the secular messiah.

"Barack Obama can claim to be a transformative leader. He can even steal Christ's own words and repackage them for his own purposes. But he will fail. His policies will fail."

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 15, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Next: Obama's Power Grab


Egad, Erickson, can't the man be permitted to borrow a scriptural reference that ALSO HAPPENS TO BE A METAPHOR OF THE MOST OBVIOUSLY COMMON-SENSE GENERIC NATURE, and re-purpose it on a common-sense literal level, without you blowing a theological gasket? Fine, maybe he could have alluded to the Three Little Pigs instead of the Gospel of Matthew; the point is the same, and obvious ("set up your program on a solid foundation, so it will be lasting and effective," unlike the castles in the air that W spent 8 years building) and you people just need to CALM DOWN.

Posted by: herzliebster | April 15, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Imagine having a President familiar enough and comfortable enough with the Christian scriptures to actually use them!
I was mildly disappointed that he didn't also incorporate the message given to Joseph about storing up in years of plenty so that one had supplies on hand for years of famine. Of course, maybe he's saving that for when recession is over and balancing the budget becomes the priority, rather than the easy indictment of the non-Biblically appropriate Bush years.

Posted by: JohnnyCanuck1 | April 15, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree it was inappropriate and inelegant to borrow from the Gospel in this way. The point could have been made in many other ways, just as clearly.
The One is starting to believe his own fawning press. Even Joe Biden "joked" about the Easter/Obama overlap - "he thinks it's about him."
It isn't funny anymore. Perhaps two wars, seas brimming with bandits, a deep recession and record unemployment will soon distract him back to business. Let others present Biblical lessons, Mr. President.

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | April 15, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

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