Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama held a press conference about his administration's proposed budget. The primary focus of the discussion was, of course, the economy.
I'll leave analysis of the administration's economic and budgetary policies to the political science and economics majors, but the address offered more than a glimpse at these policies. It also demonstrated three important changes in language and mindset that this administration is implementing.
The first observation I had about how Obama addressed the nation was the number of times he referred to positions held by organizations outside of his administration. He acknowledged both proponents and opponents of his policies. Obama maintained that the country should not only take his word for things, but also listen to the voices of those who influence his decisions, and directly addressed the concerns of those who disagree.
This was refreshing. I didn't feel like I was listening to a "decider" who held a hubristic faith in his judgment, but a man who listened to discordant voices and drew out what harmony he could.
Are his decisions totally bipartisan? That's debatable. But Obama's willingness to acknowledge, listen to and address voices besides his own, and his openness in referring Americans to opinions other than his administration's is admirable and necessary.
At one point, a reporter asked Obama why he hadn't come forward about his outrage over the American International Group, Inc. bonuses until three days after news of them had been announced. Obama's answer was, "Because I like to know what I'm talking about before I open my mouth."
No way! A politician who doesn't make a rash, emotionally charged decision before considering alternative options? Instead, as also demonstrated by his reaction to the economic crisis during the campaign, Obama has consistently stepped back from each situation to objectively evaluate it, finding and considering all of the information he can get his hands on that might be relevant.
This is a welcome change in Washington, D.C. The president has too much responsibility to allow harm to befall people because he acted rashly based on an impulse.
Obama's personality is reflected in his articulation of his vision for the future of the country. Numerous times during his address to the nation, he used language that referred to the future and the big picture. He said he is determined to change the culture of this country and to change the way "problem solving" is perceived.
Instead of reaching for immediate satisfaction - which is only achieved with illusory results brought about by methods that treat symptoms rather than causes - it is time to reach for long-term solutions, achieved through hard work and a steadfast focus on eradicating the causes of the problems.
Some argue that Obama's policies will leave future generations in debt and that he is in fact not looking at the big picture. The fact is that he's trying to make decisions to solve the causes of problems to prevent them for recurring. During the process, it may become necessary to change plans accordingly to changing situations. Although the budget has 10-year projections, a new budget rectifying mistakes can be written before those 10 years are up.
Thanks to the new administration, problem solving on Capitol Hill has transformed into a collective process - a task empirical and objective, holistic and fluid. It's about time.
Jesse Goldberg is a freshman English major who likes when people play nice.