Obama: This Is Our 'Sputnik Moment'

President calls on Americans' 'stubborn resilience'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2011 5:45 PM CST
Updated Jan 25, 2011 9:14 PM CST

(Newser) – President Obama wrapped up his State of the Union Address tonight—read the full text here, from the Wall Street Journal—a speech in which he called on Americans to set aside partisan squabbles and summon their "stubborn resilience" to meet the nation's challenges, much as the US met the Soviet space challenge decades ago:

  • "After investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation’s Sputnik moment."
  • Obama mentioned "Gabby Giffords" early. Her shooting "gave us pause" because "amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from ... we are part of the American family." He did not, however, address gun control.

  • As expected, he called for a five-year freeze in annual domestic spending—"painful cuts"—but smart investment in other areas to keep the US competitive. “We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit, and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future.”
  • More on that note: "I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources."
  • Education: "In South Korea, teachers are known as 'nation builders.' Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect." He urges kids to become teachers: "Your country needs you."
  • Health care law: "Anything can be improved," but "what I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. ... Let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward."
  • Iraq: "America’s commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end."
  • A joke, while talking about endless bureaucracy: "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked."
  • The close: "The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong."
(Read more President Obama stories.)

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