I usually do not have very high hopes for political speeches, having heard a fair amount in my lifetime, from a fair variety of people. Most of them are pretty similar in their construction and message. There is a flow to these things, a cadence, that anyone who needs to make a persuasive speech knows about, how to punch important ideas,how to time your words to build, settle, and rise again. But so often the words are meaningless promises, plans that never had a chance from the moment their details are uttered, and you can see it in the eyes of the speechmaker, and in their audience's eyes. What the listener ends up with is a magic show, over the second the lights and cameras are cut, and business as usual continues on, unfettered and unknown to most.

Tonight I watched President Obama's address to Congress. I wanted to see what he would do, if there was anything he could say that could pull away from the norm, if he could say something of real substance to this country. We are all hurting and worried, knowing times are going to get worse before they might ever get better, wondering how to ever trust again in the people we elect to represent us. I wanted to hear his voice, not his speechwriters' idea of what would sell, and I wanted to hear something of truth. I did not want to hear another set of grand ideas that would never come to fruition, a useless blame fest, or platitudes that upon examination had the weight of a feather.

After a slowish start, I began to listen with less jaded ears. His delivery was near-flawless, the language direct, clean, and accessible, probably even to those who ignorantly mistake his intelligence as snobbery. But past that, I liked that he was able to say this:

1. Yes, we are in trouble and yes, it is not all going to just go away.
2. Yes, government has a role in fixing this, as do each and every one of us. There will be further sacrifices from all, but it is not impossible to improve things.
3. Fix the core issues first and do it NOW: energy, health care, and education.

If Obama can hold strong to his commitment and accountability on these things, even just these things, there will be lasting change. If he cannot rally support from all of Congress, the public and private sectors of influence, and the regular people who must now take stock of their futures like never before, then I fear Washington garbage will take over again. I have said it before, but I will say it again: so often it takes tragedy or crisis to hit each and every one of us before there is enough strength and focus to say, alright, enough, I am going to pitch in and do everything I can do to help. I do believe as President Obama does, that there is great strength, ingenuity, and creativity in us all, and it is our responsibility as Americans, citizens of this tiny planet, and to ourselves to try harder, do better, think to what benefits others. So many times looking outwards can give us the answers to what is needed inward.

As I watched, MissSix watched as well, after spending a few minutes whining and carping about not getting to watch cartoons. I saw how this usually-frenetic child started paying attention to what was going on during the speech, and she asked reasonable questions, like why are they all standing so much, why are they clapping so much, who is that little girl next to Mrs. Obama, and how long does the President have to talk? She then quietly went and got her pencils and paper, sat down in front of the tv, and drew a picture of the President and the Capitol Building, and handed each to me to see, beaming.

I told her I was proud of her, hugged her, and beamed as well.

Of course, there were no concrete details in Obama's speech; it was not the occasion, not how this sort of thing is done. I have no idea how or where money will come from to implement the change he seeks, but I do know that an uneducated or under-educated, unhealthy, and dependent upon foreign oil American population is doomed, truly doomed. Priorities must change. MUST change.

Let's see what he can do. Let's see what we can do.