in horse racing, in dating, and in speeches:

finish strong. tonights example, barack h. obama

(fast forward the video to 1:05:10)

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions – our corporations, our media, and yes, our government – still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there. No wonder there’s so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.

But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That’s just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.

But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn’t be here tonight. The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going – what keeps me fighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people – lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, “None of us,” he said, “…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail.”

It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, “We are strong. We are resilient. We are American.”

It lives on in the 8-year old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti. And it lives on in all the Americans who’ve dropped everything to go some place they’ve never been and pull people they’ve never known from rubble, prompting chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!” when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.

We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America.

what i like about this is it’s about the emotions, not the details. these sorts of speeches are never about the details, so how do you outline broad ideas and goals without delivering on the nuts and bolts: by painting a vision that a wide swath of people can agree with.

so much of politics, particularly the stuff that ends up on television completely ignores the emotion and sappiness and ideals of whats positive about this country. i was in a meeting once, a long time ago, where the guy running the meeting said, we all could write volumes to why this Big Idea wouldnt work – lets spend the next 15 minutes exploring creative ways that we could get it to work. and it shut everyone up for a minute and we realized that sometimes you have to retrain your brain because we have blocked it from allowing All possibilities.

i wouldnt know, but i imagine there are elements of politics where you simply dont want to start thinking with too open of a mind, else you may lose your job. or worse, your job would be far more difficult. what of the liberal peacenik representing a hippy town who suddenly starts believing in first strike foreign “diplomacy” or the bible belt republican who has a change of heart about being pro-life?

you know my answer for that? be a leader for once. and lead by example.

im not exactly sure if thats what your president said tonight, but that ending sure sounded pretty.

today i get to interview one of my all time favorite bands

often i say how lucky i am. and it’s true.

what we have at the Times, among other things, is a rock room.

it was designed by one of the former publishers who thought the employees should have a place to bring their musical instruments and rock out with their friends and cohorts.

this afternoon we are going to have one of the best bands in rock, and theyre going to rock the rock room.

somewhere during the fracas yours dumbly will interview the band and ask all the tough questions that you would ask them.

im deeply honored. and a tad bit nervous.

but heres the best part. tomorrow at noon you will be able to see it on our pop n hiss blog.

i will provide a link from here to there for yr collective booties.

ps i heart you all.