President Barack Obama slipped the slogan in at the very end of his State of the Union address last night — unobtrusively, right after his speech hit its emotional high point with the praise and gratitude he directed toward wounded Army veteran Cory Remsburg.
It was a two-word line, probably overlooked by most. But for at least a few of Obama’s initial core of supporters, it must have resonated — in a heartening way for some, perhaps poignantly for others.
Obama used Remsburg’s story of courage and grit to apply those characteristics, writ large, to the U.S. “My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy,” the president said as he segued into a patriotic wrapup. His conclusion: “But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow – I know it’s within our reach.”
And then came his somewhat subtle sloganeering: “Believe it.”
In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all that long ago that an upstart Obama campaign propelled the junior senator from Illinois to the Democratic presidential nomination, and then the White House, with the help of the catch phrase: “Change We Can Believe In.”
Historians will be left to judge, far down the road, whether the Obama administration came close to fulfilling that pledge. Yet for a president who takes great care in crafting his speeches, the “believe it” assertion could not have been an accidental echo. And for Democrats on the ballot this November, might it be an effective battle cry?
We shall see.