The Slatest

Obama Very Casually Made a Stirring Case for National Optimism Yesterday


Mark Wilson

A lot of the coverage of yesterday’s news conference by President Obama was focused, understandably, on his statements regarding immediate policy priorities and hints about how he’ll work with a Republican majority in both houses. The event was also relatively long and got bogged down more than once by 1) reporters repeatedly asking the president to analyze how he/the Democrats screwed up the midterms from a political strategy/campaign/messaging perspective, even though he made clear he wasn’t going to discuss it, and 2) classic political non-answers to many of the more substantive questions during which the president managed to talk for minutes at a time without saying anything new about his opinions or plans.

But, but! Perhaps due to the length of the press conference, Obama seemed (to this observer at least) to loosen up toward the conclusion of the Q&A, segueing from a question about electoral disappointment into a broad case for American optimism. It’s not unusual to hear yay-America rhetoric from a politician, of course, but where many uplift-y speeches (including some of Obama’s) are vague and canned—twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom—yesterday’s riff seemed off-the-cuff and genuine. And it was convincing—a case built from reasoning and, like, facts, rather than wishful thinking and blandly positive metaphors involving eagles.

Of course, I might just be a sucker, so watch for yourself below or read the transcript here (starting at “But I’ll close with…”).

That all sounds…very reasonable? “We have all the best cards, relative to every other country on Earth.” Maybe we do! Let’s keep on twirling, perhaps, and see where it takes us.