President Obama was given a rapturous welcome as he made his first formal address to a joint session of the US Congress. Widely publicised before hand, it was known he would have to perform a balancing act between confidence and caution, optimism coupled with a sober assessment of the current economic crisis.
“While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: we will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before,” he said. But the speech was not only for a domestic audience. The president showed he recognised the numerous international calls for renewed impetus in the area of foreign affairs. “In words and deeds,” the president said, “we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm.” But while the list of things to be done was long; jobs to be created, tax hikes for the very rich, medical insurance for the poor, the president also said the budget deficit must by cut. Critical Republicans are asking how can the new Obama presidency pay for its pledges.