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State of the Union: "We Revitalized NATO" and "We Do Big Things"

"With our European allies, we revitalized NATO and increased our cooperation on everything from counterterrorism to missile defense.  We've reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, built new partnerships with nations like India." declared President Obama in yesterday's State of the Union Address (Enhanced video).

The focus of his speech was of course domestic rather than foreign -- "and perhaps properly so, given Americans' continuing preoccupation with the economy. Even in that context, though, President Obama's portrait of U.S. engagement in the world was thin -- and weak. By Obama's account, the most important American foreign initiatives in 2011 will be retreats," comments Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post.

Still, I very much like his speech. I felt inspired afterwards, and I assume the speech moved many Americans as well. An optimistic yet realistic message during tough times.

My favorite quotes:

This is our generation's Sputnik moment.  Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race.  And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.  We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people. (...)

That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. (...)

What's more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -- the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.  That's why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. (...)

We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair. (...) Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom.  In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders."  Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.  (Applause.)  We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.

I consider the speech's ending especially inspirational:

Brandon started a company in Berlin, Pennsylvania, that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology.  And one day last summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save them.

But Brandon thought his company could help.  And so he designed a rescue that would come to be known as Plan B.  His employees worked around the clock to manufacture the necessary drilling equipment.  And Brandon left for Chile.

Along with others, he began drilling a 2,000-foot hole into the ground, working three- or four-hour -- three or four days at a time without any sleep.  Thirty-seven days later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were rescued.  (Applause.)  But because he didn't want all of the attention, Brandon wasn't there when the miners emerged.  He'd already gone back home, back to work on his next project.

And later, one of his employees said of the rescue, "We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things."  (Applause.)

We do big things.

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream.  That's how we win the future.

We're a nation that says, "I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company."  "I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree."  "I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try."  "I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there.  I know we will."

We do big things.  (Applause.)

The idea of America endures.  Our destiny remains our choice.  And tonight, more than two centuries later, it's because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

Chancellor Merkel should give such a speech. You see, I am already dreaming...


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Pat Patterson on :

Americans have indeed reinvented themselves but it hasn't been either through the exhortations of the president or some 5-Year Plan.

John in Michigan, US on :

...and I'm back. Where have I been? If you'll permit a brief hijack of this topic... A long, long time ago my computer died due to a lightening strike. Seriously. Woke up at dawn to the sound of thunder, decided to start the day early, fired up the old 'puter network. It didn't take me long to replace it with a Linux box (Kubuntu). But there was so much work to do restoring my files, and doing other, non-computer things in life, that I found I only had time for reading and emails, no blogging :(. I certainly should have stopped by AR to say hi long before now, sorry I didn't. Glad to see the debate continues with all the usual suspects and a few new ones. Looking forward, I might be doing some light commenting here and there, but probably not at the same level as before. Cordially, - John

Joerg Wolf on :

Good to have you back!

Marie Claude on :

nice to see you back we missed your common sense

John in Michigan, US on :

The Center Rock story (and indeed the whole Chilean mine story) is amazing. I'd forgotten how many remarkable things happened this past year. I thought the President SOTU remarks on the Gifford tragedy were appropriate. While he was discussing it, the cameras caught the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, in a horrible, cynical grimace. She clearly intends to keep playing politics with this issue, even if the President is giving cues to rise above it. Democrats already behaving like a minority party, even though they still control the majority of government. Not a good sign. "Chancellor Merkel should give such a speech. You see, I am already dreaming" Which German politician do you think is most likely to give a speech like that? Bonus EU question: can anyone imagine Van Rompuy giving a speech like that? You know, a speech where he talks about 'the vision thing' for the EU. My thought is that the requirement for consensus would dilute any vision speech into platitudes.

Zyme on :

There cannot be an inspiring speech about the EU at all I believe. On the one hand there are the idealistic Europeans, who have the dreams necessary for such a speech. And then there are the powerful figures on the continent, who consider the EU to be a tool to project their national power onto Europe and the world. The latter group can hardly project their vision into a speech which enthralls the masses. All they can do is to use the dreams of the idealists and lie to the public. But on this side of the pond, people do not fall for this so easily :-) That is why our leaders barely even try it anymore.

Marie Claude on :

check the Davos discourses ! finally the banksters are there after 2 years of low profile, they show off their recovered wealthiness "JPMorgan Chase a réalisé en 2010 les plus gros profits de son histoire, 17,4 milliards de dollars. Citigroup a réalisé pour la première fois depuis 2007 un profit net en 2010" and are questionning the sustainability of the eurozone bande de rapaces !

John in Michigan, US on :

The financial profits are only a little bit due to the end of the recession. Mostly they are due to artificially low interest rates and other subsidies that governments are using to re-inflate the bubbles (housing and derivatives) that collapsed in 2008. The global mandarins (US, EU and China) have apparently convinced themselves that this new bubble won't pop, as long as they fill it just a little bit less than the previous bubble...and greed is good if it's blessed by the Treasury, right? Anyone who has ever played with soap knows, this is very, very risky when soap costs $1 trillion per bottle. Bubbles are not all the same size, and each has its own destiny.

Marie Claude on :

well, it's magic ! unfortunately some don't know it

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