I was shocked at the quantity and volume of applause he received when he made major points, and apparently so was he. They were mostly good points, and deserved applause, but it sounded more like a high school sports rally than Congress.
For me his best moment was his forceful statement, "America does not torture". The fact that he even had to say it speaks volumes about the past 8 years. However, I was surprised that instead of following this up with a statement that those being held would be given their day in court, he promised "swift and certain justice for captured terrorists." Something of a fail, I think.
On the economic stimulus program he said he is asking for help for The People, not The bankers. "I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over. "
Fancy drapes? WTF? But yeah, way to go on abolishing the No Banker Left Behind program.
He talked a lot about health care, but didn't offer a Plan. He appointed a committee. It sounds like a very diverse committee, and it will be interesting to see if they will find a way to agree on anything.
Kudos on his push for more tech, alternative energy and the education which will make it all possible.
I think he went over the top, though in equating dropping out of school with being un-American. I know lots of people who dropped out of school because they already had the education and skills they needed for their chosen careers. I ran a GED testing center for a year, and at least half of our business was testing 14-to-17-year-olds who needed the piece of paper to get a job, or into college, or emancipated from abusive parents. All of them scored higher than average.
He didn't mention, and should have, that fixing the economy will fix a lot of the dropout problem. Most of the people I know who dropped out of college would have finished if they had the funds for tuition, books, housing, meals, etc. I only graduated because my professors voted me a scholarship for my senior year.
"And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training" Also over the top, especially with all the cuts in school programs we are now suffering. Next year, when the schools have felt the impact of the recovery package, maybe a more modest version of this request would be in order.
"if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education." Yay! I wish we had this when I got out of the Peace Corps. I'd have either gone to grad school or back for a second bachelor's.
He talked a lot about reducing the deficit, and made a major point about not passing the debt on to our children. Yay!
While he mentioned that he has sent an envoy to the Middle East, he didn't play the "This is the guy who negotiated a peace in Ireland" card. Minor fail there.
Strange but true, my 2nd favorite part of the speech was one of the tangential anecdotes which usually fall flat with me:
"And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters."