Obama’s ‘Candid’ Rescue-Package Speech Low on Specifics, High on Scripted Rhetoric

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Friedman and Raju, chin buddies. Photo: Getty Images

At the beginning of the week, we were hearing a lot of noise about how Barack Obama was going to painstakingly explain his $300 billion economic-recovery package today. We heard descriptions like "unprecedented candor" and "patient walk-through." But just now watching it, he didn't really explain any of the logistics at all. In fact, it felt like just another campaign speech. There was nothing major that we didn't already know about his plans and worries from reading the newspapers. "We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have ever seen in our lifetime," he warned (we know — we've been alive this whole time). "On Friday we're likely to learn that we've lost more jobs than any time since World War II." The speech just piled fearmongering upon fearmongering, actually. "If nothing is done, this recession could last for years," he said. "We could lose a generation of potential and promise." He blamed "an era of profound irresponsibility" in Washington and on Wall Street for the economic collapse, and then went on to say what he hoped his plan would do without getting into the nitty-gritty of how. All in all, this was a speech meant to rally confidence, build support for his package, and to lay out reasonable expectations, but it was a bit of a disappointment.

But, oh, he threatened to make Congress work on the weekends. That's fun!