Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A new star in the heavens

To observe Barack Obama deliver his speech before a joint session of Congress last night after eight years of watching George W. Bush do the same was a little like sitting through hours of a Three Stooges retrospective not realizing that the main feature to follow was Some Like It Hot. The realization that you have just wasted a good chunk of your life being dumbed-down is devastating. Knowing that genius still flourishes, together with the promise of more of the same to come makes the price of the ticket seem like a bargain.

During my lifetime, I have only once experienced anything like the feeling of being witness to a sphinx rising from a desert of despair that I feel now. That was in 1961, when I, as a 15-year-old boy, experienced my first political crush when John F. Kennedy and his remarkable family moved into the White House. Then, it seemed a torch had been passed from the hands of an old, tired-but-wise warrior who looked like my grandfather, to another type of warrior--young, glamorous, eloquent, vigorous, compassionate. The times were much like now--menace from abroad, crippled economy at home. JFK swept in like a stiff ocean breeze, stirring souls like so many palm trees lining a beach. Suddenly, it felt as if we could make it through to the other side. America was on the move again, making the world safer for democracy and offering hope to the unfortunate.

It was Ronald Reagan who said, "It's morning in America". He was wrong. It was only the gaudy glitter of Las Vegas at night, harbinger of the greed and decadence that has brought our economy to its knees, like a street beggar tugging at the sleeve of every passing socialist for relief.

Now, Obama has risen from the desert of the Reagan Legacy, guardian of the temple, where lay our most sacred values, facing directly toward the rising sun. Vandals may take pot shots at his nose but they cannot alter his magnificence, his grandeur, his timeless wisdom. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, President Obama will be there to show it where its light is most needed. I know this because last night, he was truly a shooting star.


Detroit Dan said...

I agree Lewis. Obama gave an excellent speech, reflecting generally good policy prescriptions.

The one area of concern is the continued waffling on how to deal with the financial crisis. As Frank Rich put it today:

The genuine populist rage in the country...cannot be ignored or finessed. Though Obama was crystal clear on Tuesday that there can be “no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis,” it was telling that he got fuzzy when he came to what he might do about it...Americans still don’t understand why many Wall Street malefactors remain in place or why the administration’s dithering banking policy lacks the boldness and clarity of Obama’s rhetoric.

Nor can a further bailout be easily sold by a Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, whose lax oversight of the guilty banks while at the New York Fed remains a subject of journalistic inquiry. In a damning 5,600-word article from Bloomberg last week, he is portrayed as a second banana, a timid protégé of the old boys who got us into this disaster...Handing more public money to the reckless banks that invented this culture and stuck us with the wreckage is the new third rail of American politics. If Obama doesn’t forge a better plan, neither his immense popularity nor even political foes as laughable as Jindal can insulate him from getting burned.

Detroit Dan said...

Atrios chimes in on the related subject of "moderates" who oppose big government spending to help the middle class and get the economy going again.

In 2010 if the economy hasn't turned around, savvy Republicans will easily be able to run with faux Dobbs/Santelli "populism" against such "moderates."