Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a Brand New, Bright Obama Day!

I was lucky enough to get to watch the inauguration speech at my parents' place today. I thought it was a good speech, Obama managed to get across the idea that we need to move forwards and put aside some of the divisiveness that has been poisoning the country for the past eight years, yet made it very clear that the irresponsible policies and the lack of transparency and accountability that defined the past administration are indeed coming to an end.

There were a couple of things nestled within the speech that gave me hope that this was the beginning of something different. It wasn't really the predicted and bold statements that made me want to cheer, as they are part of any presidential speech, but the little things that were mentioned in passing but which spoke volumes. For example, Obama's assurance that "We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost" is a fairly bold statement after the repeated demonization of science for political gain that we saw so much of the past eight years. As is the assurance that we need to move past the same tired old talking points that mean so little:

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.

The most important part of the speech for me was probably Obama's statement about reclaiming America's core ideals in the face of wartime or danger: 

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

And not just because of the deserved slam at an administration that ran drunk on it's own entitlement issues when it came to abusing military power, but also because of the assertion that it is in our best interest to work with the rest of the world, instead of telling all other countries to bascially fuck off.

The nod to people that don't embrace faith was a nice touch as well, not something you'd usually see in an inauguration speech:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

In fact, I don't think I've ever seen it. And I know that the inauguration was layered pretty thick with religion (the Christian one), that small shout-out seems huge to me. And I think the above statement here is also noteworthy because it seems to indicate that, despite some of the rhetoric to the contrary that was around everywhere during the Bush administration, we can indeed criticize America's misdeeds to achieve the ideal that we hold for America, and that in the end, doing so made us stronger.

All in all, it's a good speech. I don't believe that Obama is going to become the progressive or liberal messiah, and it could be argued that it's better that he doesn't. But I still do have the "hope" bug, as I do believe that Obama is sincere, intelligent, and that he will make a tremendous change in this country for the better. In my opinion, he already has, even before he took the oath.

But on a snarky note, I rather liked this comment on the inauguration from Sadly, No!:

I'm disappointed that Obama rejected the first draft of my inauguration speech, which involved him torching the Bible, lifting up a Koran and yelling, "WHITE PEOPLE, YOU BE FUCKED NOW!!!! AAAAAH-HAAAAAA-HAAAAA-HAAAAAAA!!!!"

Yeah, that would of been good, too. 


Celeste said...

I had typed a comment but it gave me an error. So anyways, I watched it online at work. I thought he did a great job. I'm hoping he's better than the last president. He seems much more intelligent!

Stacy said...

Yeah, he's a bright guy. Seems sincere as well. I realize he's not going to fix everything, but I think he'll be good for the country.

Carajojo, your friendly hoho said...

Hes already begun reversing old policies, like no water boarding. Hmmm a president with morals, refreshing isn't it?