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President Obama's Inaugural Speech   January 20th, 2009
Amazing what our president said       


More observations...

Sigh... I was hoping I wouldn't have anything to say about President Obama's inaugural speech. It was supposed to be one of unity and, that being the case, I was hoping (but not necessarily expecting) that he'd try not to be divisive. Unfortunately, I'm blown away by what I heard our president say...


President Obama: Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Who believes that? I don't know anyone who does. If the president believes that--or thinks the nation does--I'm worried. I really don't want to criticize President Obama at every turn--I want to criticize his policies when they are wrong. But statements like the above from our new president really do worry me.

America's decline is not inevitable nor do we have to set our sights lower. To the contrary. But our continued success is going to be met by each of us individually, not by anything President Obama or the government can give us. He says as much later in the speech:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

Indeed. Unfortunately a lot of his speech--and the policies he has been championing--seem to ignore the above paragraph.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

He might not have mentioned specific people, but it seems pretty clear that President Obama was attempting to reduce his opposition--Republicans and conservatives--to "cynics" and stated that our arguments "no longer apply." If not Republicans and conservatives, to whom would have Obama been referring? Just because he didn't provide specific names didn't make the speech any less divisive. His comments amounted to political swipes in an inauguration speech. In fact, I heard nothing in the speech that amounted to reaching across the aisle and encouraging unity and bipartisanship.

So much for bipartisanship and mutual respect. The president has set the tone in his inaugural speech. And if anyone thinks it's one of unity and bipartisanship, they must be pretty deaf to the way others hear these comments. And that's fine, but if they are deaf to the way others hear these comments and aren't capable of empathy, how can they presume to unite the country?

Of course, they can't. We have legitimate and real differences on matters of policy and no speech is going to change that. Perhaps that's why President Obama, after making bipartisanship and unity a central part of his campaign, didn't even give lip service to it in his inaugural speech.

Update 2/2/2009: Two weeks after Obama's inauguration, even some in the mainstream media are recognizing that Obama's call for bipartisanship was indeed a ruse.
The decision by Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to load the stimulus with so many partisan projects is politically shrewd and economically suspect. The president's claims of bipartisanship were mostly a sham, as he skillfully maneuvered Republicans into a no-win position: Either support a Democratic program, or oppose it--and seem passive and uncaring.

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