March 5, 2009

Obama's need for speed

I thought this article by Tom Beven was quite interesting

President Obama is in a hurry. A big hurry. Not only with the way he demanded Congress pass the stimulus bill, but also with his desire to enact the sweeping changes across major sectors of American life he outlined in his first address to Congress. Contrast Obama's opening salvo with another young president who took office amid turbulent times both at home and abroad. On January 30, 1961, this is how John F. Kennedy began his first speed to Congress:

I speak today in an hour of national peril and national opportunity. Before my term has ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain. The answers are by no means clear. All of us together--this Administration, this Congress, this nation-must forge those answers.

But today, were I to offer--after little more than a week in office--detailed legislation to remedy every national ill, the Congress would rightly wonder whether the desire for speed had replaced the duty of responsibility.

Kennedy offered this strikingly prudent tone despite the fact that his Democratic party held even larger majorities in the House (263 seats) and the Senate (64 seats) than Obama's party holds today (233 seats in the House and 58 in the Senate). Obama, on the other hand, went before Congress after one month on the job and unveiled a list of promises to transform American healthcare, energy, education, etc.

In his address, Kennedy went on to tell Congress that "the prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust."

Read the whole thing, though, including Kennedy's first speech to Congress.  Sometimes, often, speed is not our friend.

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