February 25th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
6 years ago

Analysis: Obama takes 'morning in America' mantle

President Obama takes a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook in his speech to Congress.
President Obama takes a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook in his speech to Congress.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama addressed Congress shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, but a casual viewer might have believed it was actually morning in America.

Watch: Obama lays out agenda

"Morning in America" was the theme of Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign, and it was front and center in Obama's most critical event since Inauguration Day.

The president who has pledged to reverse much of Reagan's economic revolution took a page from the 40th president's playbook in his 52-minute speech, striking a defiantly optimistic tone that belied the nation's sour mood and rebutted critics who have accused him of intentionally talking down the economy for short-term political gain.

"Though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," Obama declared to a thunderous round of applause from a packed House chamber.

Delivered against a backdrop of dismal economic news and with polls showing overwhelming majorities of Americans believing the country is on the wrong track, Obama's first speech to Congress amounted to a political tour de force. He proposed what many claim is a complete overhaul of the country's economic foundation while ripping his conservative predecessors for transferring "wealth to the wealthy" and gutting regulations "for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market."

And he did it while employing some of Reagan's favorite rhetorical tools. Obama stuck to a fairly short list of priorities while invoking traditional American values of responsibility, hard work and thrift to pound home a back-to-basics message.

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Filed under: Obama address
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Doug, New Jersey

    "Obama stuck to a fairly short list of priorities while invoking traditional American values of responsibility, hard work and thrift to pound home a back-to-basics message."

    What? He wants to punish and steal from every American who has personal responsibility and works hard. he wants to reward the lazy, the people who bought houses they could never afford and now demand that other responsible Americans who live within their means bail them out.

    Transfer of wealth? That is the focal point of his presidency. Tell me libs, what happens when there is no more money left from those evil rich people to steal? What do you do then?

    February 25, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Larry

    Obama is a puppet,he doesn't know what he is doing so he emulates what ever has worked for other presidents,FDR,JFK,and Reagen.

    February 25, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. David in Dallas

    worriedmom said, These Kool-Aid drinkers need to dismantle their shrines and start looking at reality. Stop waiting on free handouts!!!

    Nobody's waiting on free handouts, mom. That's Republican campaign kool-aid, nothing more.

    We're waiting on the things Obama has promised–turning the economy around, improving our standing in America, ending an unpopular war, winning a more popular one, being more pro-green, and improving the lives of our most unfortunate countrymen. Most of us do not believe he will be able to deliver on every promise, especially with Republicans choosing obstructionism instead of coming to the table and inserting their values into the work for a more mainstream outcome. But it's sufficient that Obama tries.

    Why? Because his goals tend to embrace mainstream America's values–the same values Reagan spoke to. It's a refreshing break from Bush's go-it-alone spy-on-Americans torture-our-enemies values.

    Obama's popularity, vision, powerful rhetoric and accomplishments to date are of course discouraging to those who embrace Bush's values. But those of us who wanted our country on a different path are cautiously optimistic, despite the fact that Obama sometimes leans a little farther to the right than we'd like. Because he's still far, far more to the center than Bush ever was.

    Bush set a really low bar for us to measure Obama by. That's why we're so positive about Obama. He'd likely not be as popular if Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan had been his immediate predecessor.

    February 25, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. J.P.

    Puh leeze.

    Morning in America literally meant "the government is going to get off your back so you can be free to prosper or fail, it's up to you."

    Obama's "Mourning" in America is literally that, mourning.

    Reagan said then, "Government isn't the solution to our problems... government IS the problem." And what he propsed did indeed deliver us from the economic wasteland that was the late 1970s. Anyone who enjoyed the 1990s can thank Reagan for the decade of prosperity that created the wealth (1980s), wealth that was invested in the 1990s.

    Obama is now faced with a similar, yet less dire or drastic set of economic circumstances as was Reagan in 1981. Yet, rather than adopting a strategy that has proven successful on at least three occasions (JFK, Reagan, GWB), Obama instead adopts the Carter Policy of "Government Knows Best, " mindblowing pork and spending and what will amount to the largest ever tax increase on Americans to pay for it all. I think the nicest word I could say is simply "Fool."

    Those who refuse to learn economics are destined to repeat voting Democrat.

    February 25, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Beverly from NC

    Obama was brilliant last night. He is making bold plans to save this nation just like a great leader does.

    Jindal's "speech" was a rambling mess jumping from how much Republicans love America (oh yea, we can tell from your nasty rhetoric) to unbelievably stupid comments about about what great shape Louisiana is in after Katrina???

    Has Jindal been to New Orleans in the past 2 years? Much of it still looks like the hurricane hit last week. Most schools are not even open still and he talked about how great their schools were??

    Unemployment rates are extremely high yet Jindal states he plans to take no employment money from the stimulus package. Talk about out of touch!

    He and McCain need to get their stories straight on Defense spending. Bitter old McCain made a fool of himself criticizing Obama on the "extremely wasterful" Defense projects that McCain (still as Head of the Armed Forces Committee) created with his dear buddy Bush – while Jindal critcized President Obama for cutting too much from the Defense budget.

    The Republicans have no leader, no idea who they are, and NO plans or ideas how to fix anything. All they do is snipe and criticize and play political games with our lives.

    How sad Jindal does not realize that his skin is too dark to be remotely accepted by the Republican base. He and Steele are pawns so the Republicans can pretend they are now diverse with 2 whole non-white people.

    The only "irresponsible" behavior I see is coming from the Republican Party. 2010 is coming -so we will have our change to rid ourselves of more obstructionists who care nothing about the people they represent. NC will be getting rid of Sen "No" Burr who betrayed us.

    Hey Arizona – McCain comes up for reelection in 2010 – retire him or throw him out. He is a disgrace and obviously a bitter old man.

    Thank God we finally have an intelligent leader who DOES cares about ALL Americans – not just all of us who agree with him. He has accomplished more in 1 month than the Republican have in 12 years!

    Great job Obama! A man with real PLANS.

    February 25, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Ted:Canada

    Well done Obama – the world was watching.

    We also watched the Republicans – sad!

    The Republicans are on the wrong side of history and while Bush will win out as the worst American president ever the Republicans are on track to be the worst political party ever in the free world. The history books will have pictures of the Republican politicians of the time.

    Obama is smart to put their reaction on TV for a permanent record for the history books.

    The Republican Legacy – the Wrong Economy – the Wrong War!

    Republicans should consider changing their name.
    When all is said and done…
    History will not treat them well!

    February 25, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. J.P.

    Taxing the wealthiest 2% is the solution to all our problems and will aid in job creation, eh?

    Tell me please, the names of all these entrepreneurial poor people who have hired all of you good folks... for I've never once been hired to work for a poor man. A poor man has never offered me a job, nor has a poor man ever signed my paycheck.

    But hey, I could be wrong... maybe the poor are just more industrial and entrepreneurial where you live, eh?

    February 25, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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