In a Labor Day speech freighted with work metaphors and good news about the nation’s economy, President Barack Obama summoned his best rhetoric at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee on the national holiday. He dropped a number of tempting hooks for the media such as “Don’t boo, vote!” when the crowd hissed at the mention of the GOP and the opposition.

“It ain’t right!” was another line that the crowd repeated when he cited things that his detractors refused to support, including immigration reform, universal health care, equal pay and an increase in the minimum wage.

“I want an economy where your hard work pays off, with higher wages and higher incomes, and fair pay for women, workplace flexibility … affordable health insurance and decent retirement benefits,” he bellowed, much to the delight of an audience decked out in T-shirts reflecting their union affiliation. “I’m not asking for the moon. I just want a good deal for Americans workers.”

Hardly a line was uttered without loud approval from the more than 5,000 people jammed along the lakefront. As usual, his speech was sprinkled with local references, including acknowledging several elected officials and union leaders. But the president veered clear of any mention of the very tight gubernatorial race in the state.

More than anything, his remarks centered around all the economic good news, including the fact that more new jobs have been created, that the automobile industry has surpassed the production of anywhere else and that the nation is back on its feet after a recession that almost sank us into a depression.

“Construction is rebounding. Energy and technology is booming, manufacturing is steadily creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s,” he boomed, though there are many millions still looking for a decent job.

All of the good news, he joked, had not come easy. “I’ve earned everyone of these gray hairs,” he said, his grin much wider than it’s been in recent days, given the international crises and such domestic problems as those sparked by police officers killing unarmed young Black men.

Obama struck a chord when he focused on the unions assembled there. “If I were looking for a job that lets me get some security for my family, I’d join a union,” he said, stressing this point on other factors where the union is beneficial.

When investors are looking for a place to invest their money, he explained, “they don’t go to England, they don’t go to Germany, they come … to the U.S.A.” Once more, the crowd picked up those those final words, chanting “U.S.A.”

Though there were few comments about international affairs, while the president was speaking, he had apparently already ordered more airstrikes against ISIS. Look for more on this point in another article in this edition.