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The day of reckoning has arrived, Obama says

February 24, 2009 |  6:34 pm

Congres3

6:20 p.m.: It's pretty simple psychology. First you empathize, then you deliver the hard truth. President Obama doesn't go exactly Clintonian, but it's clear he feels the country's pain. But the empathy is merely a preamble for the prescription. As he puts it, "That day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here."

Rep. John Boeher, the extremely tan Ohioan who is the House minority leader, nods gravely as he hears those words.

The problem, says Obama, is that we have lived "through an era where short-term gains were prized over long-term priorities ... a surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market."

When the president says, "I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work," the camera focuses on his Republican rival for the presidency, Arizona Sen. John McCain. McCain, his fingers touching, is inscrutable, his face wears a Mona-Lisa-like expression.

-- Robin Abcarian

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

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