Obama's Speech: A Tonal Masterpiece

Obama's budget speech revealed a President not just ready, but relishing the tough tasks ahead

Martinez Monsivais / AFP / Getty

Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California applaud as President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber of the Capitol in Washingtona on February 24, 2009.

Let it be recorded that Barack Obama came into full possession of the U.S. presidency toward the end of his February 24 budget speech to a joint session of Congress. He had just read a letter from a South Carolina schoolgirl, pleading for help with her dilapidated school. "We are not quitters," the girl had written. The President's eyes brightened as he repeated that phrase, and he seemed barely able to control his joy and confidence as he attacked his peroration: that even in the toughest times, "there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency and a...

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