The Campaign Spot

Aren’t We Past the Time for Pledges?

I’m the wrong guy to judge whether President Obama’s speech worked or not; readers out there know what I think of the guy. It was pretty much what we expected from him: Our situation is simultaneously one of the worst crises to ever hit the nation and yet there is no doubt we will triumph; the stimulus was exactly what was needed; we’ll end our dependence on foreign oil; we’ll save the banks without helping the CEOs; we’ll keep all the right people in their houses and not give any money to the folks who don’t deserve it; everyone will get the health care they need at a price they can afford; taxes will be raised, but only on the rich, and there will be no harm to the economy as a result of it; we will increase spending on all of these priorities and cut the deficit at the same time; hope, change, yes we can.

Some of us have been hearing variations of these themes for oh, the past two years or so.

I’ve been talking about the markets’ response to Obama lately, as have others. I have no idea how the markets will respond tomorrow. But I can’t help suspect that the markets’ seeming pessimism and lack of faith in the Obama team’s response to a declining economy doesn’t have to do with an inability to appreciate grand visions, poetic language, or bold promises of a better tomorrow. Like the rest of us, they’ve been hearing these promises for years. It’s what the administration (and Congress) is doing and not doing that seems to be a source of anxiety.

UPDATE: Roland Martin on CNN says, “Obama was not speaking to Wall Street tonight, he was speaking to Main Street.” Well, if those high polling numbers are to believed, Main Street is still with him, or wants to believe. The market performance suggests Wall Street needs to be reassured.

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