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Some are in despair about this economic reckoning. I don't want to belittle in any way the stress it will inflict on many people who deserve nothing of the kind. But the truth is: there is always something of a relief about hitting reality. That's where we are now in Iraq and Afghanistan and it's where we are now on the economy and energy. The silver lining is that denial is no longer an option, and denial was the chief problem of the Bush administration for seven long years.

And so Obama emerges as the manager of this new realism at home and abroad. McCain might have done so but his refusal to acknowledge the extent of the mistake in Iraq, the suicidal cynicism of his veep pick and his utter incoherence on economics has handed the role of leader to the Democrat at a critical moment in history. Here's the money quote from the Obama speech yesterday. It is a small-c conservative message:

"Part of the reason this crisis occurred is that everyone was living beyond their means – from Wall Street to Washington to even some on Main Street. CEOs got greedy. Politicians spent money they didn't have. Lenders tricked people into buying home they couldn't afford and some folks knew they couldn't afford them and bought them anyway.

We've lived through an era of easy money, in which we were allowed and even encouraged to spend without limits; to borrow instead of save.

We've lived through an era of easy money, in which we were allowed and even encouraged to spend without limits; to borrow instead of save. Now, I know that in an age of declining wages and skyrocketing costs, for many folks this was not a choice but a necessity. People have been forced to turn to credit cards and home equity loans to keep up, just like our government has borrowed from China and other creditors to help pay its bills. But we now know how dangerous that can be. Once we get past the present emergency, which requires immediate new investments, we have to break that cycle of debt. Our long-term future requires that we do what's necessary to scale down our deficits, grow wages and encourage personal savings again."

Amen. Wouldn't it be great to have a president who tells us the truth again? However hard it sometimes is to swallow?

(Photo: Tim Sloan/Getty.)

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