Remember back in the olden days when all a president had to do during the State of the Union address was try not to be as long-winded and boring as Bill Clinton? Well, times have changed! We, as a nation, are now so poor that we can't even afford a fancy State of the Union address, and we are left with a "President's address to a joint session of Congress" on the only topic that anybody cares about: the economy.
A difficult job lies ahead for our Prince of Words, President Obama. He must lay out in no uncertain terms how we're going to dig ourselves out of this depression we're in.
He must be detailed and precise, but not so detailed and precise that the details frighten anyone (like investors, or banks, or consumers, or foreign leaders).
He must acknowledge the true state of our economy, which is abysmal. Any failure to meet this reality head-on will look like he's "out of touch," which will further erode confidence in the financial markets.
However, if he says "the true state of our economy is abysmal," then it will appear as if even he has no confidence in the financial markets -- which is sure to erode confidence even further.
The president must be optimistic -- but realistic. Realistic -- but hopeful. Hopeful -- but honest. But not too honest.
In other words, there is basically nothing the president can do to assure America that he, or Congress, or really any human mortal or invention can fix the nonstop horror show that is our collapsing economy.
Today Ben Bernanketold the Senate Banking Committee that "there is a reasonable prospect" that the recession may end this year, provided that we get our credit and financial markets working normally again. Translation: the economy will improve once we fix its most fundamentally and irreparably broken parts, which nearly a trillion dollars of bailout funds have yet to affect in the slightest. Amazingly, the stock markets began rising once the Chairman of the Fed uttered this nonsense.
So -- scratch all those earlier recommendations. The president must tell us that the recession will end next week. In fact, he should tell us it has ended already! America is back! Until tomorrow, when the stock market tanks again.