Last night’s Presidential address was much more of a tangible shift in American policy than any of the campaign or inaugural speeches.
President Obama has shown a deft command of the levers of power and their inherent limitations in just 30 days. That’s why people who may not agree with him have renewed confidence that the U.S. government will actually be managed for the first time since Lyndon Johnson.
Arguments about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act miss the reality that he will be using the entire federal government to tackle the national challenges. Although much of his administration has yet to be confirmed, there is already a degree of coordination between departments, such as the rapid action by HUD and DHS to make housing available for long-suffering Katrina survivors, that we have not seen in decades.
Rather than descend to the carping criticism by Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford, the President showed their shallowness by acting on behalf of their residents, first in the case of the Katrina rental assistance plan, and second, by bringing an eighth grader from South Carolina whose school is in shambles, who is asking for help from the federal government that Sanford has not supplied.
Since 1980, the government has been run by people who didn’t believe in government, with predictable results. We’ve gotten the worst of both worlds, with rising spending and diminished services across the board.
Overlooked was his statement that $2 trillion in management savings have been identified by his team. It gives credibility to the goal of reducing the federal budget deficit.
But the largest impact of the first month of the Obama administration is to give American voters the realization that their voting, their political participation and their decisions matter.
The election will change the direction of the country and all signs point to a change for the better.