Saturday, September 10, 2011

In jobs speech, President Obama puts the people first

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The contrasts could not have been clearer. A day after eight GOP presidential hopefuls took the stage in Wednesday's Republican debate, President Obama had his turn to address the American people. Long story short, the President delivered twice the leadership of his GOP rivals in half the time. And in doing so, perhaps the President reminded America of what sets him apart from most others in Washington. In a world of political calculations and gamesmanship, the President still puts the people first.

While the GOP spent Wednesday night rehashing its talking points and constructing an alternate universe for a partisan crowd at the Reagan Presidential Library, President Obama spoke to America - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents - in the self-proclaimed "People's House" of Congress. It is a move that does not get enough credit in today's cynical political environment. This was not a "play it safe" kind of moment. Unlike those eight Republicans, the President did not speak in front of a friendly audience. Quite the contrary, speaking in the House of Representatives was more of an away game for a man who has seen Congress attempt to block his every move.

Far from a partisan crowd, the President practically stepped into the belly of the beast. The 2010 Elections still fresh in memory, Republican Tea-Party members ever so prominent, President Obama could have settled for the friendly confines of his Oval Office. But he did not. A speech of this magnitude for a problem this big could not be confined to the four walls of the White House. No, putting the people first required that the President speak in the "People's House."

The President could not rely on cheap applause from a room that was majority Republican. Indeed, certain lines dealing with tax cuts for the wealthy received outright derision from the Republican side of the aisle. Other proposals for matters such as infrastructure and labor rights were met with stone faces. But this speech wasn't for the suits in peanut gallery so much as it was a message for the millions of Americans watching on television. President Obama's message: Despite all of the craziness you see around me, I stand with you.



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