Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An average Minnesotan reacts to President Obama’s speech January 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:45 AM

President Barack Obama works the crowd at a health care reform rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis in September.

“YOU’RE TAKING NOTES?” he asks upon awakening from a catnap.

President Barack Obama’s televised speech apparently fails to interest my husband as much as me. He’s been snoozing on our reclining couch while the President talks. I suppose I can’t blame Randy for catching a few zzzzs. He rises early and works long, hard days as an automotive machinist.

But, in all truthfulness, I might be napping too if not for the note-taking. Jotting down keys points and memorable comments from Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday night keeps me focused and alert.

And there’s certainly plenty of material to fill several notebook pages. With talk of the economy, the financial system, health care reform, education, war, tax breaks and tax credits, jobs, clean energy, a proposed freeze in discretionary government spending, the need for the Democrats and Republicans to get along and much more, the President has a lot on his plate.

I wonder, as I listen, how this leader will accomplish everything he lays out before the American people.

I don’t pretend to know or understand all of the proposals out there to make ours a stronger, better nation, both domestically and globally. Obama’s plans seem ambitious. He wants to double American exports within the next five years. He wants to create jobs, build safe, clean nuclear power plants, develop a health care reform plan that decreases premiums and stops insurance company abuses…

For more than an hour, I listen to the President’s ideas. How much is spoken in sincerity and how much is rhetoric? And always, nagging at the back of my mind, the question, “Who’s going to pay for this?”

Despite my concerns and the questions that linger, I give the President credit for tackling the problems that face our nation. He seems fearless and undaunted.

He is certainly, undoubtedly, an excellent communicator. Strong. Steady. Confident. Persuasive. He understands the power of cultivated word choices.

As a crafter of language, I too choose words carefully, desiring to find just the right phrases to convey a message, a thought, an idea.

That said, I selected five State of the Union Presidential quotes that I deem most memorable, followed by my comments:

“We all hated the bank bail out. It was about as popular as a root canal.” You’re right on that, Mr. President.

“Let’s try common sense…a novel concept.” I agree, Mr. President. Common sense in government would be a fine approach to problem solving.

“The people still expect us to solve problems and not run for the hills.” Mr. Obama, that’s certainly an interesting image you paint of Democrats high-tailing it for the hills.

“We (elected officials) are here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.” AMEN, Mr. President.

“We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize the moment…” Go team, go! You’re right, Mr. Obama. No one likes a quitter.

President Barack Obama appears in Minneapolis in September 2009.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos courtesy of Amber Helbling