Defining the Moment
A key element of leadership is defining a moment and bringing people to it, when even the most expert observer may not see that opportunity. President Obama's speech was remarkable not only for his oratory - and it was exceptional - but for the basic fundamentals of taking responsibility for the debate, laying down specific goals, identifying common ground, and challenging critics on both the left and the right to work constructively toward a solution.
In a moving and complex tribute to the late Senator Kennedy, the president was able to give voice to the American character - one that is firmly committed to individual self-reliance, and at the same time cherishes our relationships with, and responsibilities toward one other. He was able to make a compelling case that health care reform is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem, it is a problem for the American people.
When the president noted that it would be important to make sure that everyone participated in the health insurance system in order to make it available to everyone who needs it, he put his finger on a larger truth -- the basic humanity of our nation dictates not only that we find a way to cover everyone, but that we do it in a way that makes all Americans feel proud to contribute.
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