The economy is a strange beast - it feeds on confidence. Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his next best thing to a State of the Union address with a heaping helping of optimism for the economic beast and all who wish it to prosper.
It is possible to fault his speech (and some did) as somewhat short on specifics. It is possible to wonder how the deficit will be cut drastically when all his grand plans are proceeding.
But anyone with a spark of human feeling would be hard-pressed not to respond positively. It was a masterful speech (and I write as one who didn't think his inauguration speech was particularly inspired). On this night, Obama's oratory skills were on full display. Even those on the Republican side of the aisle were moved to get up frequently to applaud lest they be seen as rocks about to be submerged by the rising tide of enthusiasm.
While the stock market didn't respond positively this morning, the American people can take hope after this speech that such a projection of leadership will make a difference over the long haul. Intelligence and unflappable confidence is the very definition of leadership - and it's been a long while since we have seen it.
By contrast, the Republican response by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was an embarrassment. This was his chance to make himself known to the American public. Those who stayed around to hear it are likely to have been seriously under-whelmed or worse, including the Republicans among them.
Granted, Obama last night was a tough act to follow but to serve up cold, stale ideology with an unappealing delivery did nothing for the GOP cause. If Jindal is the party's great hope for the future, then I fear it's back to the drawing board.