With the economy is such a fragile state, President Barack Obama must walk the fine line between inspiring optimism and fostering realistic expectations for the future.
In this video, regular NewsHour commentator Mark Shields and former Reagan speechwriter Michael Gerson, a Washington Post columnist, weigh in on the president's tone, as well his recent decision to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research.
Shields says "there were many cheers and congratulations that [the administration has] taken science out of politics and politics out of science" but states that not all the questions have been answered yet.
Gerson goes further arguing that the president did a very radical thing by allowing scientists to come up with the ethical guidelines for research with stem cells created by destroying embryos.
"It's important that the president, in addition to being the commander-in-chief, also be the empathizer-in-chief, that he understands what people are going through, and, to some degree, the inspirer-in-chief." - Mark Shields, NewsHour political analyst
"The administration has not intervened in a decisive, effective, credible way on this set of issues. People don't understand how it's going to work, how they're going to get from here to there. That seems to me the largest sap of confidence in this system." - Michael Gerson, Washington Post commentator, former Reagan speechwriter
"Health care and particularly education are a major part of the economic stimulus. I mean, I think that they stimulate the economy, spending money in those areas does, and I think, for the long-term competitiveness of the nation, they're absolutely indispensable and essential." - Mark Shields, NewsHour political analyst
"An embryo is either actual life or personal life. And the idea or the concept of these little beings being harvested for their parts I think is anathema to most people. And so I think that we face a very real, important, and, I hope, thoughtful debate on this policy." - Michael Gerson, Washington Post commentator, former Reagan speechwriter
1. Do you think President Obama's tone affects people's confidence in the economy? Why or why not?
2. Besides choosing the best policies, what can President Obama do to improve the economy?
1. What is an embryo? How might scientists use embryos for medical research?
2. What are some ethical dilemmas raised by scientific research?
1. Do you think the president should be more upbeat about the economy? Why or why not?
2. Do you think President Obama should be focusing more on the economy? If not, what should he be focusing on?
3. What is your opinion about embryonic stem cell research?
4. What other information would help you decide whether President Bush's policy was best or whether President Obama's decision was correct?