During his address to Congress last night, President Barack Obama focused on the state of the economy, bringing a young and energetic voice to an otherwise grim situation. While he came off stern and concerned, the president offered uplifting statements as well, saying, "We will rebuild," and arguing the potential success of the $787 billion stimulus package, which has gone from a bill to a reality in recent weeks.
Any overarching presidential speech of this decade would be remiss if it didn't include a plan for Iraq, Afghanistan and our troops. Beyond the overwhelming youth involvement and enthusiasm, there are a few things that stuck out as major promises in President Obama's campaign, like the planned 16-month troop pullout from Iraq. Democrats and young people across the nation applauded Obama for his plan, which was in strict opposition to that of former President Bush and, of course, opponent John McCain.
So when Obama gave the time frame of 19 months last night in his speech, there were a few furrowed brows. While the campaign promised 16 months, apparently the Pentagon and military officials argued for 23 months — and so, through a "meeting of the minds," as Obama called it, they arrived at a compromise of 19 months. Compromise? In Washington? Fresh. And certainly a departure from the more ... didactic and unilateral decision-making of our 43rd president. I think we can forgive the three-month difference in place of the bigger promise kept, which was to bring compromise, and a president who listens to his entire Cabinet before making a fair and balanced decision.