Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Mother of All Speeches

By Saeed Qureshi

President Barack Obamaʼs electrifying first speech to a Joint session of Congress on the night of February 24, can be adjudged as the mother of all landmark speeches. The address of the American president, to the Joint Session of the Congress invariably outlines the broad policy perspectives and enunciates the strategies and goals of his administration, in both the domestic and the external domains.

I shall presently talk of his awesome brilliance, his unmatched diction and style, his unrivaled eloquence, his inimitable articulation that were the outstanding features of his first traditional address to the Congress after taking the office of the president of the United States. Irrefutably he is gifted with a mammoth memory. He seldom stumbles. The torrent of well chosen words and lucid phrases pour out of his lips incessantly and impact the listeners readily. With force and ease, he spoke for almost 52 minutes and every minute he was profusely applauded. Such was the mesmerizing degree of his address. He is not a firebrand speaker: he is more than that. With sobriety and logic, he articulates his convictions with fluency and vigor.

While fully knowing the enormity of the challenge that he faces and the stinging and un-obliging mood of his detractors for a variety of reasons, president Obama is seldom sarcastic, cynical, emotionally reactive or venomous in his rebuttals. He is in the habit of stating his views in a simple, truthful, coherent and direct manner.

He blends the seriousness of his message and agenda with the candor of superb declamatory fervor that makes the audience spell bound. He seldom digresses from his main themes and keeps a tight tab on his emotions. Without shouting or raising the pitch of his voice, President Obama, in a stable and sustained tone, injects a serene stress on every word and sentence that flow out of his lips. His political rivals may differ with his policies but they too cannot help adoring him for his oration.

As ever, this time too he looked scholarly and meditative while delivering his discourse. His sincerity of utterance corresponded with the poise that is manifest in his gaze and sleight of his head and hands and indeed a broad cheerful smile. With an abiding charm of his speech and a reservoir of splendid ideas, like a visionary, he portrayed and stressed the express need of reinventing the side-tracked ideals of American nation. After a phase of eight years that degenerated every aspect of American life, America is certainly fortunate for having a leader of the ability and talent of Barack Obama to lead the nation. The noble values of liberty, openness democracy, together with a robust and free economy have all along been the crowning distinctions of America. But these were dealt a severe blow during the administration of former president G.W. Bush by engaging America in wasteful and futile military pursuits and the so called war on terrorism , depleting the economy and halting the fast pace of an all embracing progress.

President Obamaʼs task to put America back on track is, therefore, massively arduous. Besides an unscrupulously instilled scare of terrorism by the former administration, there is a pervading fear psyche among the American society about the jobs, social security, health care, education and spiraling cost of living etc. In the end neither the terrorism has been bridled nor were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan won. The American economy is in bad shape and the people seem subdued. America has wasted three trillion dollars in this bad bargain.

Obamaʼs economic stimulus is basically for reconstruction and less for war spending. His economic package aims not only at resuscitating the sick economy but heralds a giant step towards putting America on the threshold of a new era of innovation and reformation. It is a new social contract to overhaul America. It aims at technological and social revolution. Innovation, peace and social uplift are its prime features. Accountability and transparency are central to the reconstruction vision of Obama. The stimulus funds and their spending will carry strict checks and a transparent accountability process. It takes care of the middle and the lower middle classes by way of social benefits such as health care education, pensions and tax cuts etc.

But understandably, the economic recovery of United States is going to be a long haul. By the year 2019 Americaʼs projected budget deficit would be about $712 billion and the national debt around $23.1 trillion. One may imagine how severe the economic cataclysm America is caught in is. It is hoped that the agenda of change that Obama has set for himself would alleviate Americaʼs economic afflictions to a large extent.

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