President Obama says stimulus is the only way to reverse ‘downward spiral’

Above: President Barack Obama makes opening remarks
during his first prime time televised news conference in the
East Room of the White House. (Dharapak/AP)

BY Kenneth R. Bazinet, Richard Sisk and Michael Mcauliff

WASHINGTON – Yes, the government can, President Obama said last night.

In his first White House news conference, Obama called for a historic about-face in the nation’s philosophy on government’s role in the marketplace as he pushed for passage of the biggest economic rescue package ever put before Congress.

Obama directly targeted the core Republican dogma set out by Ronald Reagan and summed up by the late President’s quote: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Obama said, “You have some people,very sincere, who just think philosophically that government has no business interfering in the marketplace.”

But government has a role to play, Obama said, and “is an important element in introducing some additional demand into the economy.” Read More.

Related: What Obama’s Presidency means to my daughter from Ethiopia

Jill Vexler, a New York City based anthropologist,
who specializes in curating exhibitions about cultural identity
and social history, with Tibarek, her seven year old adopted
daughter from Ethiopia in NYC.

BY Jill Vexler

New York (Tadias) – About six months ago, my then seven year old daughter, Tibarek, awakened early one morning and called out to me. “Jilly, I had a dream. Joe Biden won! And that means that if he wins, Obama will win, too. So, you don’t have to worry!” I told her that her dream was wonderful and I hoped she was right. “Kids just know these things. Adults just have to listen to us sometimes.”

My prescient daughter was right and on Nov. 5th, I awakened her to say, “OBAMA WON!” “Stop kidding me!” she responded with a smile. “You’re sure?” And we, like the vast majority of Americans and the world, started our day with a profound smile.

I’m still digesting Obama’s victory and what it means to me. Each time I hear someone on TV, I think “Oh, that’s what it means.” Optimism. Potential. The fruits of hard work. The core of what America means to the world. My elation that a man of high intelligence, calm and caring has won is reinforced by the flood of emails from friends around the world who are SO excited with us – the friend in Amsterdam who was invited to FIVE parties to watch the results, the friend in Tel Aviv who sees a new day in the Middle East, my “sister” in Mexico City who is crying with emotions for future generations.

There’s also a profoundly personal joy in Obama’s victory that I haven’t fully articulated, but it goes something like this: Because I am Tibarek’s mom, I feel an extra connection to the joy of the African American and African communities here and all over the world that a black man is the new leader of America. I am overjoyed that Tibarek has been in the US during this formidable time, when women leaders are the norm, Spanish is the language she hears and is picking up, and black faces are those of our leaders. She’s living a life in which news that “Uncle Bruce and Uncle Mitch are getting married!” is met with “I thought they already were.” Her visual vocabulary is vast with fluid definitions of who’s who and who can be what. Rabbis and Episcopal priests are women. Her elementary school teachers are Chinese American, African and Caribbean American, white, Latina, scarf-wearing Muslims. Her generation sees diversity as the norm while ours saw “white men” as the norm. She voted with me for Hillary for Senator and Obama for President; we canvassed for Obama in Pennsylvania; we talk about policy and fairness. I love it that she will see little girls who look like her living in the White House. I am proud to have participated in activities which show her in the importance of being involved.

Tibarek checking in at a polling station

Campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania

And herein, I feel an almost secret connection, perhaps my own little invention, of closeness to the man and his family. Obama’s white anthropologist mother brought him up in a world where different cultures, looks, languages, religions and nationalities were daily fair. This was formative. His deeply ingrained values are reflected in his ease with cultures, from his approach to foreign policy to his take on domestic diversity. Each time Obama talks about world cultures, diversity in America, intercultural understanding, his comfort with true multiculturalism exudes. Problems are not swept away but are approached under a larger umbrella of respect for the human experience and the need to understand multiple perspectives. With this in the forefront, Obama and his team bring new energy and intellect to find creative solutions. What a glorious contrast with the Republicans for whom an understanding of multiple perspectives was seen as unpatriotic.

I am Tibarek’s white anthropologist mother who also lives in the world where a huge embrace of “other” is the norm. Two years ago, Tibarek’s Ethiopian mother entrusted me to take her beyond the family’s limited resources, expand her world, grow and blossom. I promised her I would and am taking this amazing person along for every possible opportunity that comes our way or that we can create. I hope I am giving Tibarek the tools for living in a hugely diverse world, enjoying differences and learning from them. I want her to know and be comfortable with her many identities: African, Ethiopian, American, Texas, from a bi-racial Jewish family with Episcopalian god-parents and friends and family from every point on the globe. And I hope she, like Obama, will take the ball and run with it as she makes positive contributions to the world she will encounter.

From knocking on doors in Pennsylvania, I figure she’ll soon be knocking on another door on Pennsylvania Avenue, this time for a play date.

Scranton, Pennsylvania

1 Response to “President Obama says stimulus is the only way to reverse ‘downward spiral’”

  1. 1 Hope to Hopeless | Vancouver Secrets Pingback on Mar 9th, 2009 at 9:16 am
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