President Obama spoke to America last night.
I will not be providing a complete transcription, because my opinion does not matter.
The stock market is what matters.
So far, the stock market does not seem to like President Obama or Secretary Geithner.
(For those wanting substance, the guy who really matters is Ben Bernanke. Yes, like a typical Federal Reserve Chairman, he is boring. Unlike the President, his lack of style belies deeply substantive remarks.)
On a personal level, the president is very likable. He is affable, funny, and pleasant. Yet politically, the man who ran one of the best campaigns in history seems to have hit a brick wall with regards to Wall Street.
He even began his speech by saying, “The First Lady of the United States, who is around here somewhere.” She then blew him a kiss. As I said, he gets the symbolism. The concern so far has been with the substance, or to be more specific, the lack of it.
He began with empathy, before announcing that America absolutely would rebuild and recover. He then mentioned words like “boldly” and “take responsibility.” I waited for the meat on the bones.
He said that he has “no desire to lay blame or look backwards.” He then pointed out that we have to look at how we as a nation got to this point.
He correctly pointed out that for decades, nothing was done about getting off of foreign oil, fixing health care, and fixing the educational system.
Yet he incorrectly pointed out that “regulations were gutted,” getting us into this mess. That is not true.
The chamber was clearly on his side. They even clapped when he said that his plan was “about jobs.”
In speaking about supporting bigger government, he flat out said, “I don’t.” This is not true.
He claimed that 90% of the 3.5 million new jobs that will be created will be in the private sector. We shall see. It could happen, although even if those jobs are materialized we will not know if it was because of his plan. Nevertheless, I give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
He then acknowledged that some “are skeptical” of his plan.
Yet his way of dealing with that skepticism is having Vice President Joe Biden lead an “unprecedented oversight.” This is a platitude.
He did say that he was appointing an Inspector General with real powers. If this turns out to be true, it is a positive step.
The chamber of sycophants clapped when he pointed out thata failure to lend would choke off the recovery. I am not sure why that is a sentiment worthy of loud praise.
One thing that caught me by surprise was that a camera shot of Hillary Clinton showed her with a dour expression. I thought she left that attitude behind with the previous administration. Apparently anybody being President that is not her forces that facially unpleasant reaction.
President Obama kept using the word accountability.
Yet he then took a moment to bash Wall Street. It was a mild bashing, but more tough talk against Wall Street is not only not necessary, but harmful.
The verbal thrashing of Wall Street and corporate CEOs needs to stop.
If the President wants to let Wall Street know that he is unhappy with them, he has succeeded. They have been tarred, feathered, and excoriated.
The problem with this is that the stock market is you and me. Every day that it keeps dropping, real wealth of ordinary Americans is destroyed. The corporate CEOs will be fine. They will cut costs and lay off worker bees. This verbal assault on Wall Street is throttling Main Street.
The President said that “the cost of action will be great, but the cost of inaction will be greater.”
We do not know that. I personally disagree, but the President gets his chance, and deserves it.
A camera shot of Charles Rangel made it look like he died while sitting there. His tongue was hanging out.
The president kept using the words “bold,” and “big.” Yet what followed was neither. He did praise the G.I. Bill, which was created by JFK. The sycophants in the chamber clapped.
He again mentioned that energy, health care, and education were critical. The sycophants clapped. Yes, these speeches involve pomp and circumstance, but this speech added little else.
His rhetoric soars. He speaks well. At the moment he speaks, he inspires. The problem is when his words are processed, the markets react violently against him. The financial markets are not sold.
Spending a bulk of time on renewable energy sources brought thrills to the Pelosiraptor and Barbara Boxer, but those two women are hostile towards Wall Street.
Senator Carl Levin was asleep. If anybody should pay attention, it is a Senator from what might be the most failed state in America, Michigan.
Hillary could not even smile when the President announced that health care reform was critical. Apparently she is disinterested unless she is in charge of it.
Yet again, his goal of “seeking a cure for cancer in our time,” while noble, is not a plan. This was rhetoric in the JFK mode, but the reason JFK is lionized is because when it came to some of his bolder ideas, such as going to the Moon, we actually did it. President Obama should not bring up something so bold unless he actually can articulate a plan to put the wheels in motion so positive occurrences actually take place.
Emphasizing education is fine for a long term strategy, but is useless with regards to the short term financial situation. President Obama can speak until he is blue in the face about education, but unless he takes on the teachers unions, his words are meaningless. He mentioned the word “reform,” but stopped short of anything that could be seen as having guts.
“Dropping out of high school is not an option. It is not just quitting on yourself. It is quitting on your country. This country needs the support of every American.”
The line is fabulous. The ability to back it up is impossible. This is the heart of President Obama.
The obligatory praise of Ted Kennedy was cleverly packaged in the words of JFK.
President Obama is 100% right whyen he says that parents must “put away the video games and read to our children. I say this not just as a President, but as a father.”
This is an example where words can make a difference. The President cannot raise our children. However, the bully pulpit can be invaluable on this issue.
Yet the President cannot help himself when it comes to preaching responsibility for others while deflecting it in himself. First he praises bipartisan cooperation. Then he speaks about “the deficit I inherited.” Democrats leapt to their feet while Republicans stayed sitting.
Nancy Pelosi leapt to her feet quickest when the President promised to end corporate loopholes for corporations shipping jobs overseas. Yet the Pelosiraptor has fought for such loopholes for corporations in her district. Try getting those loopholes closed.
President Obama then went back into campaign mode, playing the class warfare card with regards to taxes. The man is a Keynesian, not a supply sider. He won the election. He is still wrong. Taxing the producers is what killed California. He wants to implement the California model nationwide.
He promised to “responsibly” end the Iraq War, before blathering about how tough he would be on terrorism while gutting the effective methods that have kept us safe. Democrats love to stand up and clap loudly when bellicose rhetoric on military matters is brought up, provided they are the ones chest thumping. The problem is they don’t mean it. The proper way to deal with the war is to let General Petraeus handle it, and actually listen to him.
He can thunder from the top of his lungs that closing Guantanamo Bay and condemning torture makes us safer, but he is dead wrong. He still has not told us where he is going to put the Gitmo detainees.
The President won the election, but he is in perpetual campaign mode. He is fabulous at giving the speeches, but so far has remained detached about actually doing the work.
It is for that reason that I am refusing to grade this speech. Again, my opinion does not matter.
I will let the stock market interpret the speech over the coming months.
The President very appropriately finsihed his speech by acknowledging that those that disagree with him are patriots that love America. Time will tell if those words mean anything when the disagreements actually take place. The left seems more interested in demonization over the right than actually solving problems. They live for the blame game.
President Obama entered the White House free from such viciousness. The test will be if the Pelosiraptor drags him down to the gutter, oir if he forces her to be lifted up in the name of getting things done.
As with most Obama speeches, this speech was light on substance. Yet if Wall Street ends up happy, I will be as well.
I don’t need platitudes. I need to see results.
AGain, the President is very likable. He has the good will of the people. Yet this will be fleeting if he does not translate his personal likability into real tangible results.
The President can speak forcefully, but he cannot dictate to the markets. They are even tougher than him.
They will decide. I pray that they start having confidence in this President. I pray that he gives them a reason to have this confidence.
The substance began when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave the Republican response.
Before Governor Jindal spoke, Sir Charles of Krauthammer pointed out that, despite all the JFK references, President Obama is more interested in being the next LBJ.
It is important to keep in mind that while President Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by 2013 (he did not mention this in the speech), he has increased the deficit by 1/3 in only one month since he took office. Again, in only one month, he has skyrocketed the deficit. The same man who thinks that growth through tax cuts will not be a self-solving problem actually believes we can spend ourselves into saving and debt reduction. He is gambling. I think he is wrong, but I hope he is right. He won the election.
Now he needs to stop blaming his predecessor and start taking responsibility. It’s his Presidency.
Governor Jindal pointed out that where we disagree with the President, we have an obligation to stand on principle.
“The strentgh of America is not found in our government.”
Governor jindal gave a moving story about how some bureaucrat nearly got a ton of people killed after Hurricane Katrina by not allowing rescue boats to go on the water without insurance paperwork.
Governor Jindal, unlike the President, gave specifics elements of the stimulus bill that were wasteful spending.
While Governor Jindal is totally right that cutting taxes, including business taxes, is the solution, the election may have ended any hope of that common sense solution taking place. The Governor mentioned nuclear power and oil drilling, which the President avoided. The President promised during the campaign to support nuclear power. Time will tell if that was hollow.
Governor Jindal pointed out that the stimulus law enacted was not read by the people who passed it.
The President used to be a Senator. Senators are speakers. Governors have to actually do things. Governor Jindal has turned Louisiana around. He has credibility in talking about the roots of the GOP because he was not part of the GOP spending spree. He was powerful when he said, “We lost your trust, and deservedly so. We will work to regain your trust.”
This is called candor.
The President had his say and the Governor had his response.
Now the stock market will sort it out.