Addressing both houses of Congress is a big f-off deal.
Roland Burris will be there, people. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
So, I should imagine that somewhere this weekend, speechwriters and aides are frantically pulling together the final elements of what they hope will be a triumphant speech.
So, if Martin Wolf can tell the Americans what Obama needs to say to the G20, I can offer my own advice to Number Ten. Heck, why not?
“FROM THE TEXT OF AN ADDRESS TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS BY GORDON BROWN MP
“… four of my predecessors have had the honour of addressing you.
They have spoken in times of turmoil.
They have spoken of war. Of contesting ideologies, of young lives lost for the causes our nations asked them to defend.
They have spoken of our friendship in testing times,
of our shared beliefs,
and of the slow choice to cast aside the repression that sundered us two centuries ago so we could stand together in the cause of liberty and the defence of democracy.
That choice for justice had enormous consequences.
For us, it meant the end of an empire that brought us wealth and power at the price of the oppression of others.
It meant first opposing dictatorships and then seeing we must also be freed – from a power built on the injustice of imprisoning Gandhi…
…and the cruelty of jailing an obscure Kenyan army cook.
I say today that Britain never made a better choice.
For you, it meant the slow journey to enact your highest ideals.
In this chamber a President once said “The time of justice has now come. I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come. And when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American”
He said to you “We shall overcome”
A generation later, America answered “Yes, we did”
Our choice for freedom and liberty is as vital now as it has ever been.
Today our soldiers stand together in the dusty streets of Iraq and the valleys of Afghanistan.
Together we will work to secure peace for their people, education for their children and justice for those denied it.
Today we see countries struggling to liberate their peoples from the cruel legacy of repression, from over mighty leaders bent on self aggrandisement or from implacable natural disasters..
Together we must offer them the help to free themselves from the tentacles of poverty, corruption, and disease that envelop nation after nation.
We must have no smaller aim than to set free, in every nation, the boundless spirit of the “huddled masses, yearning to be free” who built these halls and this great nation.
With the renewed leadership of the first nation to make that journey, we can meet that challenge together.
Today, alongside war and the slow, hard struggle for freedom we face a new test.
Around the world, the great engines of economic growth are seizing up.
The capital that raised up factories and employed millions – lost.
The loans that built our homes – vanished.
The purchasing power that summoned the produce of a hundred nations to our homes – in fast retreat.
In the wake of these economic losses comes the human cost.
Families whose jobs and homes seemed secure losing first one, then the other.
Companies built up slowly and carefully to meet our rising demand left stranded by the sudden, dramatic loss of markets.
Those who boasted of mastery of the science of prosperity are silenced.
Around the world, people ask fearfully “what is to be done?”
The answer is rooted in the values we have shared and the journey we have taken together.
We have faith in the strength of our people. In their industry, their skill and their knowledge.
We know if we liberate their genius, our citizens will free us.
So we will educate those who seek to improve themselves, support those with the knowledge to make our lives better and invest in the science and the technology that can change our world forever.
We know that that the failings of the banks dragged them down, and we need to set them up straight once more.
So we will cleanse the banks and the finance houses and set them on a new path of sobriety and restraint, Ensuring that they do not gamble with trillions of conjured sums but succeed in their prime task, to invest in the support of production, innovation and exchange.
We know that while we prepare for the future by trusting the people and setting right the mistakes of the powerful we must not walk on the other side.
So we must act to help those who suffer through no fault of their own.
We know that to turn away those who seek to work has a double cost. They suffer and we lose their ability.
So we can choose to use their desire to support their families, their eagerness to work their hunger for a better life to secure a brighter future for us all.
We can choose to set them to work on great projects – green energy, the opening up of space and the securing of health for all.
With their energy we can build homes, with their industry we can secure our countries and with their goodwill we can comfort the sick.
Yes, there will be costs.
Yes, there will be failures.
We will stumble, we will fall short.
We should not hide those costs, but confront them openly and head on.
We have made mistakes, we will make more.
But the cost of not trying will be a thousand times greater. Not just in jobs, or homes or suffering, but in the self belief that has driven our nations forward.
For a century and more the world has turned to this chamber, this city, at times of crisis.
Here they saw Reagan inspire imprisoned peoples half a world away.
Here they heard Roosevelt show the world that the way to prosperity lay through liberty.
Here they read of Lincoln showing that no crisis is intractable and no wound to deep to heal.
Today, we turn to America, seeking that same optimism, vitality and faith.
We know from the bravery of your troops, the boldness of your vision and the charity of your people that you will take up that burden once more.
I pledge our partnership in that great effort.
Will we succeed in the attempt to make the world fairer, more prosperous, more just?
We know the answer.
In the face of every difficulty, every mis-step, every setback.
We know, in the words of the old song “we shall overcome.”