WASHINGTON — Cope, then hope. “We will recover,” President Obama told us.
Five weeks to the day after becoming the 44th president, Obama, in his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, outlined in various ways what we know or should know by now. The economy is bad and likely getting worse.
As I listened to Obama’s speech, the metaphor that came to mind was a roller coaster, one that plunged down and crept up.
Each time I despaired for the future — as a reasonable person is entitled to at this point because of the lousy economy — Obama said things have a good chance of working out.
“We’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament,” Obama said.
Most of Obama’s speech was focused on the economy and associated domestic issues. Since taking office, most of Obama’s attention has been on saving the nation’s banking, housing and auto industries.
“The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere,” he said.
After detailing how we got to this miserable point — government failed, we the people did not act responsibly (Hey! Some of us did!), we are paying the price for taking short-term gains over what Obama called “long-term prosperity.”
Obama asked the nation to have faith in his massive economic recovery plan, and touted Vice President Joe Biden as the sheriff who will make sure that the money does not go down the drain with waste, fraud and abuse. “Nobody messes with Joe.”
Energy, health care and education will be the areas Obama invests the most in when he unveils his proposed budget later this week. He said it will cost taxpayers even more to bail out the banking system. But as he did throughout the speech, every time he outlined the tough times ahead — Obama pulled back up.
Said Obama, “Surely, confidence will return and our economy will recover.”
FOOTNOTE: After the speech, Obama went around shaking hands. When Obama came near the area when embattled Sen. Roland Burris was standing — alone at this point and looking a little forelorn — Burris waved at him a few times.
Obama appeared not to respond. And the president certainly did not reach out. I don’t know if this qualifies as a snub, but it was a brutal reminder of the tough time Burris has ahead now that he has decided not to resign in the wake of controversies stemming from his appointment by ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.