Ross Mackenzie

Terrific speech, huh?

Yes indeed. As we learned in the campaign, Barack Obama is a rhetorical class act. He knows how to perform a compelling speech. Give him an A.

Optimistic about economic recovery. And proactive on the economy -- at last. Is this a great country, or what?

It is of course a great country -- the best ever. The question is whether, with this bunch, it can remain so. What's worrisome was the speech's content and lack of it, the things Obama said and didn't say. He gave us the (leftist) ideological rope-a-dope -- and Congress cheered. At every applause line, Nancy Pelosi -- sitting behind him -- jumped up and down like a madly clapping jack-in-the-box.

Still, you've got to be pleased -- or at least pleasantly surprised.

No. The first month of the Obama administration has brought us -- well, let's review . . .

In a continuing culture of corruption, lobbyists, tax-cheats and the ethically challenged elevated to high administration posts. A 70-year-old political hack confirmed as head of the CIA. Russia reverting to its old games and Iran rolling the nuclear dice. Terrorist killers released from Guantanamo. The Census politicized (removed from Commerce to White House oversight). Bipartisanship trashed.

But the economy is stabilizing. Fed chief Ben Bernanke said so Tuesday. Obama confirmed in his speech to Congress the same night that recovery is on its way, with the federal cavalry riding to the rescue. You can almost hear the bugles . . .

Really? With the Dow at a 12-year low (down 50 percent from its October 2007 high, including a drop of 19 percent since Jan. 1), unemployment soaring, and the feds moving with a vengeance into banking and the car business -- and into private lives? With the economy in free-fall, jobs and houses lost, nest-eggs crushed, and retirements savaged?

Obama and the Democratic Congress have given us a "stimulus" measure that practically doubles the deficit and sanctions the spending of $36 billion for every day since Obama's swearing-in. Now Congress is considering a $410 billion omnibus spending bill for the rest of this fiscal year that includes about 9,000 earmarks. (In this ballyhooed post-partisan hour, aren't we supposed to have grown beyond pork-barrel spending?)

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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