Obama knocked it out of the park tonight at the Abe Lincoln bicentennial dinner in Springfield, Illinois. Stunning.
He created an unexpected word picture:

Here in Springfield, it is easier, perhaps, to reflect on Lincoln the man rather than the marble giant, before Gettysburg and Antietam, Fredericksburg and Bull Run, before emancipation was proclaimed and the captives were set free. In 1854, Lincoln was simply a Springfield lawyer, who’d served just a single term in Congress. Possibly in his law office, his feet on a cluttered desk, his sons playing around him, his clothes a bit too small to fit his uncommon frame, he put some thoughts on paper for what purpose we do not know: “The legitimate object of government,” he wrote, “is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, by themselves.”

And then Obama made the Union, its creation and survival, the central theme of his speech — in the process rebuking those who have a “knee-jerk disdain for government” that offers only “this constant rejection of any common endeavor.” The cherry on top was that he managed to do it without calling them Republican obstructionist assholes, thus preserving his civility.
Postscript: Feb. 12 — Watch and listen. The speech is much more impressive as he delivered it, including the ad libs.

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Crossposted at HuffPo)

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  1. says

    Our country has lost its sense of working together for the common good. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that government should be spending $320 billion a year over the next five years — double the current outlay — just to bring our dilapidated communal infrastructures such as roads, bridges, power lines, and water systems up to par. Due to this neglect we have seen things like an Interstate bridge collapse in Minneapolis, New York City blacked out for 24 hours, and even seen a major city entirely destroyed because its levees were not adequate to protect it from a storm that most knew would eventually come.
    The lack of appreciation for the common good also makes us the only industrial country in the world without a comprehensive system of public arts funding. American arts organizations are dropping like flies, while in Europe they have been largely unaffected. The $50 million increase for the NEA was only one sixteen-thousandth of the $825 billion recovery bill, but it was deleted. Why did Obama and the Democrats allow that? Are they really interested in the common good, or are they only providing lip service to the idea while sending incomprehensible amounts of money to wealthy bankers? Will we find that Obama’s fine rhetoric is matched by concrete actions? That has certainly not been the case for the arts!