Obama in power (2): points from the US President’s speech to Congress

Barack Obama gained several points in opinion polls and a lot of favourable media comment for his speech to Congress on Tuesday 24 February. Its main focus was the economic crisis in the US. He had little to say on foreign policy, nothing new, mostly generalities, with a couple of worthwhile points. But in what he said on responding to crisis, there was much that reflects how the President sees the US place in the world and may therefore be suggestive of his administration’s stance and future actons. Here, without comment, are brief excerpts from the speech with points that I found especially significant on that score.

“The state of the economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so.”

“The United States of America will emerge stronger than ever.”

“The only way that this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil.”

“History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas… We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again.”

“It begins with energy. We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology but we’ve falled behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it… Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders.”

“We need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.”

“Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

“I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price. We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.”

“We must be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend… That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay… (L)iving our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.”

“In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America.”

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