By Patricia Sellers
February 28, 2009

“We must usher in a new era of responsibility…and begin the hard work of bringing new levels of honesty and fairness to our government.”

– President Obama, in his opening letter in the new U.S. government budget. Obama is showing himself to be a brand-builder. Not only does the cover of his budget document come with a high-minded title: A New Era of Responsibility–Renewing America’s Promise. (Last year, President Bush’s budget was called Fiscal Year 209–Budget of the U.S. Government.) As the Wall Street Journal notes today in an amusing analysis, Obama’s budget document contains 44 references to responsibility.

“The new era of responsibility” was the takeaway line from Obama’s Inauguration speech in January. Now as Americans, we’re all on the hook. Speaking of responsibility, I was just talking with my Postcards colleague, Jessica Shambora, who had told me that for Lent (which began on Wednesday), she gave up eating out for dinner. Now she’s changed her mind. She’s retracting her pledge. Why? Because, she says, she realized that it’s probably better to do something rather than give something up. Be proactive, she says.

I agree. So over the weekend, Jessica will decide what to do to help the world in one small way. I will too. We’ll get back to you.

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