Obama's Next Big Speech

Barack Obama has given several notable speeches in his career, starting with his 16-and-a-half-minute "Cinderella" speech at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, which launched him on the path to the presidency. Since that date, Mr. Obama has hit several high water marks for his oratory:

March 18, 2008

A More Perfect Union ("The Race Speech"), Philadelphia, Pa.

August 28, 2008

"The American Promise" acceptance speech, Denver, Co.

November 4, 2008

Election night victory speech, Grant Park, Il.
January 20, 2009 Inaugural address, Washington, D.C.
June 4, 2009 "A New Beginning," Cairo, Egypt
December 1, 2009 Speech on Afghanistan to West Point 2010 Cadets, West Point, N.Y.
January 12, 2011 "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America," University of Arizona, Tucson, Az.

But the president has also hit several low-water marks (the loss of his majority in the House of Representatives, resistance to his legislation, and the defection of many of his supporters) that his speeches were unable to affect. In that time, his public approval ratings dropped to a new low of 26 percent. The many Republican candidates who are vying for the candidacy to run against Mr. Obama next year are going after each other, but they all agree on one subject: attacking him.

The president began his counterattack with a three-day bus tour of the Midwest this week. Then, as the tour wound down, White House press secretary Jay Carney told MSNBC that the president is planning to deliver a major speech on jobs and the economy after Labor Day. Given that those twin themes have been the primary point of assault, that speech could be more mission critical than any of the others. The New York Times' Michael Shear is dubious, asking, "Can Another Speech Really Help Obama?"

To meet the challenge, Mr. Obama will have to modulate the soaring rhetoric of his inaugural address ("In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come") and come down to earth with specific plans to put the country back on track and Americans back to work.

His actions will have to speak louder than his words.