[credit provider=”AP Photo/Paul Sancya”]
President Barack Obama’s labour Day address in Detroit was short on specifics about his upcoming jobs plan, but the oratorical prowess that propelled him to the White House was on stirring display.In short, campaign Obama was back — at least for one speech.
“For every cynic and every naysayer running around talking about how our best days are behind us — for everybody who keeps going around saying, ‘No, we can’t’ — for everybody who can always find a reason why we can’t rebuild America, I meet Americans every day who, in the face of impossible odds they’ve got a different belief,” he said, interrupted by applause. “They believe we can. You believe we can.”
Under increasing pressure from liberals to put the screws to Congress and present a comprehensive plan to create jobs, Obama brought his A-game to a friendly crowd of union-members. He celebrated their efforts, their city, and the American worker, assuring them he has a plan for getting people like them back to work.
Promising “a new way forward” on jobs, Obama teased his oft-repeated plans for an infrastructure bank and an extension of the payroll tax cut, and drew applause with lines like: “we’ve got to fully restore the middle class in America.”
But Obama will face a decidedly colder and more sceptical audience on Thursday, when he presents his jobs plan on the House floor — in front of the lawmakers he is increasingly decrying as obstructionist and out of touch.
“Now is not the time for the people in Washington to worry about their jobs,” Obama said, repeating his call for politicians to put citizenship ahead of partisanship. “It’s time for them to worry about your jobs.”
It’s a message that is unlikely to be interrupted by applause — let alone the chants of “four more years” that peppered his Detroit speech. Chastising Congress on their home turf is a risky move — one of many difficult calls facing Obama as he prepares to give perhaps the most important speech yet of his presidency.
He must decide whether to pursue the bold plan to create jobs that his base wants, or a more modest plan that can pass divided government.
After Friday’s dismal jobs report, with his poll numbers at unprecedented lows, and GOP criticism of his policies unceasing, Obama is running out of time to regain momentum going into the upcoming legislative season — and his reelection campaign.