How Nice Is It to Finally Have a Smart President?
For me, the first jolt was Obama's press conference on Friday (you can watch it and read the transcript here). As I watched, I smiled at finally being able to see a president speak with knowledge, intelligence, subtlety and depth of thought. Again, regardless of political ideology, whether you think Obama's policies are exactly what America needs to get back on track or a one-way ticket to disaster, Obama's intellect is what you would hope for in a president, especially after eight years of a "decider" mangling the English language (not to mention every issue he tackled).
The press conference offered many moments that made me happy. Obama's well publicized answer to a question about the family's impending puppy acquisition was funny and illuminating, and his tone and thoughts on the problems facing the country were of a level we haven't seen since the Bush brood took over the White House.
But one passage of his introduction stood out to me as a great example of how nice it is to have someone with intelligence in charge. Obama discussed aid to the automobile industry in a way that not only demonstrated a command of the issue, but that also showed the tact and skill to be absolutely clear on his position without being unduly harsh on those who would disagree. And, of course, in doing so, he made it far more likely that he could actually get something accomplished. Obama said:
"I would like to see the administration do everything it can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted. In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States of America."
Translation: We're not throwing money away on loans and grants to an industry that is stuck in the past -- aid that will only prolong an inevitable death -- but if the industry wants to modernize and change course to be a positive force as part of a forward-thinking energy plan, then we absolutely will help. In an nutshell, there is money for modernization and retooling, but none to maintain the status quo.