Obama on economy: Yes we could

  • close
    President Obama described his mortgage-relief plan Feb. 18 at Dobson High School in Mesa, Ariz.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Barack Obama campaigned on the idea that hope can triumph. But as president his message has been that hope can't triumph without redemption.

"Yes, we can" has become "Yes, we could."

Ten times in his Feb. 18 speech in Mesa, Ariz., unveiling his mortgage-relief plan, he invoked responsibility. He talked of "responsible" homeowners unable to refinance through no fault of their own, dishonest lenders who acted "irresponsibly," and a government taking "responsibility" for setting clear rules and enforcing them.

Managing expectations

Politically, such talk helps to dampen the sky-high expectations that surrounded Mr. Obama's election. But his rhetoric has moved beyond political necessity.

At a time when most people yearn for a return to the 1990s or mid-2000s, Obama is outlining something quite different for the new economy.

In Mesa, he said: "If we move forward with purpose and resolve – with a deepened appreciation for how fundamental the American Dream is and how fragile it can be when we fail in our collective responsibilities [AARRGH, that word again!] – then I am confident we will overcome this crisis and once again secure that dream for ourselves and for generations to come."

Different vision
This is the language of America as community, of the triumph of fair play and honesty, of "a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little lookin' out for the other fella, too," to quote the movie character Jefferson Smith in the 1939 Frank Capra classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." (Click here for that speech.)

This vision of the new economy is old and mythic, more Depression-era (ironically) than anything we have heard in decades. It suggests that a great economic crisis can make us a better people.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK