Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Daily Strike-5/17/09-Notre Dame

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Today we celebrate graduation season. The President gave his long awaited commencement speech at Notre Dame. Let's get to it.

NOTRE DAME: Today, the President gave the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, the country's premier Catholic institution of higher learning. Of course, his appearance caused major controversy among students and faculty because of his pro-choice views on abortion. The vast majority expressed strong appreciation for the President's visit. He was frequently given standing ovations. There were a few interruptions from protesters, who yelled out "abortion is murder," but they quickly were drowned out by students who cheered, "We are...N.D."

The speech itself, in my view, will be remembered as one of Obama's finest. The storyline being picked up by the mainstream media centers around Obama's remarks on abortion. Obama said that people on both sides must speak in "fair-minded words" in search of common ground. He expressed support for the "conscience clause" which would protect anti-abortion doctors and medical professionals.

More impressive to me was the overarching message the President was sending to the graduates. He talked about the world the graduates encounter. In doing so, he didn't talk about the slumping stock market or the degrading environment. He talked about a world in which greed causes us to lose sight of the common good. He talked about how we live in a world where people only care about immediate self-interest and crass materialism. He said, "the strong too often dominate the weak, too many of those with wealth and power find all manner of justification in their own privilege." The message was that it was becoming harder and harder to live as one world family (I know that sounds pretty corny, but it worked). He used that theme to explain why it's important to have a dialogue on issues on which we disagree. When we come together to seek common ground, anything can happen. Even, Obama noted, the election of the first black President. It's hard to sum up the speech in an entry. I highly recommend that you watch it. (scroll down to the bottom).

SUNDAY TALK SHOWS: It was another fun day on the Sunday talk-show circuit, thanks to some entertaining words from House Minority Leader John Boehner. Boehner claimed that recent appearances by Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney are good for the Republican party, because it's good to get "a chorus of voices out there." I hope Boehner keeps thinking that.

The other Republican leader in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, sharply criticized Obama for wanting to close Guantanamo Bay prison, and said he only wants to do it to "make us popular in Europe." That or because of the blow back that has created a whole new generation of extremists.

Finally, OMB Director Peter Orszag said that the Obama administration is open to taxing employee health care benefits to pay for comprehensive health care reform. I'm mixed on the merits of the policy, but I think it's an absolutely awful idea politically. For one, it would be a full flip flop from the Presidential campaign, when he chastised John McCain for proposing the same policy. It's going to be a LOT tougher to sell health reform if people are forced to give something up.

That's it for tonight, see you tomorrow morning for the Weekly Strike!

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