Commander in Speech

SLIDESHOW: Seemingly not missing a beat off the long 2008 campaign trail, Barack Obama has met each major challenge he's faced in the first 11 months of his presidency with one common response -- talk, either in the form of a carefully crafted and delivered speech or a press conference. This rhetoric either has laid the groundwork for debate, or has been used to pre-empt or answer his opposition. He heads to the podium once again Tuesday morning to discuss his plans for job creation. The following is a review of the president's addresses to date. While the end result is mixed, the approach leaves no doubt that he is America's Commander in Speech.

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    Worst justification of the year -- Unemployment will hit 8 percent without the stimulus bill

    Feb. 9: President Obama tries to build support for his massive economic recovery package during the first prime-time press conference of his presidency, ahead of a Senate vote on the bill. He insists "only government" can shake the country out of recession, warning that a failure to act could "turn a crisis into a catastrophe."  Status: Congress passes a $787 billion stimulus package. Then on Feb. 24, Obama delivers another speech, this time to a joint session of Congress, to build confidence in an economic recovery. Fierce debate has ensued over the effectiveness of the plan, however. The administration claims the stimulus is creating and saving hundreds of thousands of jobs, but critics say the numbers are inflated and point to the fact that unemployment is still at 10 percent despite having dipped down in November. 
    AP
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    Iraq War

    Feb. 27: Obama delivers a major speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C., to announce his plan to end combat operations in Iraq by August 2010. He declares there is "renewed cause for hope in Iraq."  Status: The troop withdrawal is under way. Christopher Hill, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has said that the U.S. is on track to meet the withdrawal deadline. Lawmakers in Iraq have also reached a compromise on a new election law -- disagreement over the issue had threatened to disrupt the withdrawal timetable. 
    Reuters
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    The Budget

    March 24: Obama tries to comfort a nation reeling from sticker shock over his $3.6 trillion budget proposal. In his second prime-time press conference, he says his budget will tackle the economic crisis "on all fronts," as well as prevent another crisis down the road.  Status: A budget resolution passes Congress in late April, though trillion-dollar deficits loom. 
    AP
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    Auto Industry Intervention

    March 30: Obama explains his administration's decision to demand the resignation of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner. He says he is seeking "painful concessions" from GM and Chrysler before lending more government money, but he has "no intention" of running GM and that neither company should become "wards of the state."  Status: With Fritz Henderson at the helm and billions more in government backing, GM ends up filing for bankruptcy protection in June, emerging a month later as a new company. Obama says the bankruptcy gives GM a chance to "rise again." But the government could face heavy losses on its investment. The Congressional Oversight Panel said recently that most of the $23 billion initially provided to GM and Chrysler will probably not be repaid. And the government now has a majority stake in GM. Last week, Henderson stepped down amid concerns that the company wasn't improving quickly enough. 
    AP
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    Rift Between Western and Muslim Nations

    June 4: Obama delivers a highly anticipated speech in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss strained relations between Western and Muslim nations. He highlights his own Muslim roots and declares a "new beginning" between East and West.  Status: Unresolved. Obama is still trying to restart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Iran continues what the White House calls "provocative" actions by conducting missile tests and covert nuclear development.
    AP
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    Iran Election Turmoil

    June 23: Obama calls a press conference to address the turmoil in Iran that followed its disputed election. He rejects criticism that he hasn't been forceful enough, saying the United States is "appalled and outraged" by the regime's crackdown on protesters.  Status: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad keeps his presidency and later calls for the prosecution of opposition leaders in retaliation for the summer protests. The regime again cracks down on anti-government protesters in early November, and again on Monday as student demonstrations break out across the country. 
    Reuters
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    Health Care Reform

    Sept. 9: Obama delivers his second address to a joint session of Congress to try to jump-start troubled negotiations over health care reform. After a rocky summer recess, the president presents more details about what he wants to see in a final package. His deadline for passage already passed, Obama says, "The time for bickering is over."  Status: Congress is still bickering. But progress is being made. The House of Representatives passed its bill by a narrow margin in November. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to push his version of the bill through the Senate as his chamber enters what will likely be weeks of debate. 
    AP
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    3. Climate Change

    Sept. 22: Obama addresses a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to declare his administration is "determined" to address climate change. He says his administration is doing more to combat climate change than any in history. He follows the speech the next day with a sweeping address to the full General Assembly on international challenges.   Status: The Senate still has to take action on climate change legislation that passed the House. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved its version of the bill in early November, but it appears unlikely that the full Senate can approve legislation before the end of the year. However, the EPA on Monday declared greenhouse gas emissions to be a danger to public health, a move that could pave the way for future regulation. 
    AP
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    Iran's Nuclear Program

    Sept. 25: After Iran reveals the existence of a second nuclear site, Obama delivers stern remarks alongside British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy as Western powers announce their own intelligence on the Qom facility. Obama demands Iran fulfill its "international obligations." The White House later says Iran must provide immediate and unfettered access to the nuclear site.  Status: Iran continues to defy international warnings. The United States recently held a round of talks with Iran, the four other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Obama said the negotiations were constructive but the administration, working through the International Atomic Energy Agency, has since struggled to convince Iran to agree to send enriched uranium to other countries. In its latest act of defiance, Iran announced it would move forward with the construction of 10 new uranium enrichment plants.
    AP/GeoEye
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    Afghanistan

    Dec. 1: After months of deliberation with his national security team, Obama delivers a speech outlining a new strategy for the Afghanistan war. He calls for 30,000 more U.S. troops to the war zone and sets July 2011 as the target date for when U.S. forces will start to come home.  Status: A new strategy is underway. The December speech was actually the second major address Obama gave on Afghanistan -- he first laid out his war strategy and authorized tens of thousands more troops back in March. But as the Taliban has gained momentum and U.S. casualties have mounted, public support has slipped and the strategy was revisited. Congress is expected to fund the latest troop surge, but doubts remain about whether the United States can make enough progress so that the Afghan military and government can eventually stand on their own. 
    Reuters
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    Jobs

    Dec. 8: Obama is set to deliver a major speech on the economy and job creation. It's his latest move to show the administration is attuned to the country's economic problems and serious about fixing them -- he held a jobs forum last week in Washington and embarked on what is expected to be a multi-city jobs tour.  Status: Unemployment dipped from 10.2 percent to 10 percent in November, but the president still faces pressure from his party to address the problem with more taxpayer dollars -- for unemployment benefits as well as stimulus-style infrastructure projects. The president appears open to some of these proposals despite concerns about the deficit. 
    Reuters
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