Here we set up The Big Theme of the speech: that times have often been tough, that setbacks don't mean that the cause is doomed, and so on. If Obama were still in his book-writer career as opposed to his sitting-President career, he might have gone to town on this concept. The fact is that most Americans assume in their bones that the nation was always destined to make it -- even as the historical facts show that it was always a much dicier proposition. But this is a speech, and for speech-purpose it's sufficient to set up the recurring "Tough times favor tough people" idea.

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