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Obama Seizes the Stage

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Excerpts from President Obama's first major address to a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009.Video: AP, Editor: Jacqueline Refo/washingtonpost.com

"Obama must insist he is going to get the deficit under control, conveniently by doing all the things he already wanted to do: scaling back the Iraq War, raising taxes on the rich, and further nationalizing ('reforming') health care. The first two at least reduce the deficit; the latter is a poorly disguised budget-buster. When has government ever expanded its health-care programs and achieved a cost savings? Only a system of de facto rationing and price controls, two things Obama never mentions when he talks of all the health-care savings that will be achieved by preventive care and better technology, might do it.

"What of measures that a liberal Democrat wouldn't ordinarily undertake, that speak to Obama's post-partisan pragmatism? Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to control entitlements . . . But he has shelved even the commission idea for now under pressure from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It's much easier to host a 'summit' on fiscal responsibility, as Obama did on Monday, playing to his strength of earnest, high-minded gab. He wants to make tough, politically difficult choices -- just not yet."

Matt Miller, in the WSJ, says Obama has a larger goal than bipartisanship:

"The president has his eye on a bigger prize than winning a few Republican votes for his stimulus package or having a conservative in his cabinet. He aims to move the political center in America to the left, much as Ronald Reagan moved it to the right. The only way he can achieve this goal is to harness the energies and values of both parties.

"Left and right mean less nowadays, especially to Americans outside Washington. But broadly speaking, Mr. Obama seeks to use government in new ways to bolster opportunity and security in an era when financial crisis, global competition and rapid technological change are calling into question the political and business arrangements on which our prosperity has rested for decades. This is the task that history has assigned this president. The spat between him and his liberal critics is about the way one makes this happen."

An interesting number in the NYT/CBS poll I mentioned yesterday:

"A month into her husband's presidency, Michelle Obama is viewed more positively than were other first ladies in the past 28 years at similar stages, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

"Over all, 49 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Mrs. Obama, 5 percent view her unfavorably and 44 percent do not yet have an opinion."

And how many times did the cameras cut away to her last night?

Rupert says he's sorry for the monkey business:

"Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.

"Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you -- without a doubt -- that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such."


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