Commentary: No time to throw in the towel, Mr. President

Dear President Obama,

I will be watching your State of the Union address tonight with an increased intensity.

You were elected for times such as these, when the upheaval is real and the rhetoric ripe. You proved you were up to the task by signing a $787 billion stimulus plan that has already produced between 1 million and 2 million jobs. It was the reason the economy began growing earlier than most thought possible and why we avoided another Depression. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have acknowledged as much.

It wasn't a popular decision.

Liberals don't like bailing out Wall Street. Conservatives hate government intervention. Yet neither side wanted the alternative, the crashing of the financial sector — and our economy along with it — or the demise of our car manufacturing industry, which could have meant several million more layoffs.

You haven't gotten credit for saving the economy (and probably won't for years), the politics of the stimulus will likely hurt your party in November, and it has become easy for critics to point out its imperfections while ignoring that tax money is being returned sooner than expected, with billions of dollars of interest to boot.

You pushed it because the country needed it. That's leadership.

It's time to display that kind of steadfastness again.

Don't let one special election cause you to lose focus. Massachusetts residents have universal health care, they love it and your approval rating is more than 60 percent there. In a Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study, the voters — including 52 percent of those who voted for Republican Scott Brown — want Brown and Democrats to make health reform and the political process better, not scrap the legislation.

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