I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans."
President Barack Obama
I had not expected this speech. This was a workman's speech, the speech of a man impatient to get on with the serious business of the Republic. It was bony, filled with policy statements and demands for sacrifice and seriousness of purpose. He is a serious man. It would have been oh so easy for someone of his literary skill to have crafted a speech that would have sung to the ages. I expected that, something like the seductive words of the poet president he so admires. Instead, we received a manifesto that rejected the attitudes and policies of the Bush era, and insisted that the United States must redeem and save itself through hard work and a rededication to "our founding documents."
Hail to the Chief!
I listened and heard Lincoln, his first inaugural. Powerful stuff.
Hail indeed. Your niece sent me a text message right after Obama’s speech (remember that she worked Democratic phone banks for months before the election). Text message read:
“Mom, Got it on the radio in my office. Message great- Let’s roll up our sleeves & get to work!”
Agreed, very much a workman’s speech – much like FDR’s first inaugural. For me, these were the two most standout phrases:
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. Where the answer is yes, we
intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to
account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in
the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust
between a people and their government.
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. And so to all other peoples and governments who
are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village
where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each
nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and
dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Now I hope that our government and people will truly commit to the lofty promises the new President makes in these remarks.
I am ready.
PL you are right on with the President’s choice of words. He is clearly anxious to get started and knows that the real depth of the problems will surface even more rapidly than the briefers both DEMS and Republicans know. You nailed it. He is a serious man. No more cheerleaders.
Hail to the chief, indeed! Long live President Obama, and long live the Constitutional Republic that is the United States of America.
This just in:
George Mitchell to be named special envoy to the ME, with a focus on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Our best negotiator? A hell of a lot better than Dennis Ross and more palatable than Holbrooke. I can’t think of anyone better for the job.
I agree 100%, Pat. At first, I was a bit disappointed that it lacked a degree of lyricism that he has exploited elsewhere to good cause and that no single phrase stands out, but he’s been making those conceptual and positioning arguments for almost two years and now simply seems to be saying “let’s all get to work”!
cheers, colonel lang,
I can only agree. Obama is a solid man, he appreciates and cares for people and knows that we can only survive as a community. at the same time, he seems to appreciate challenges on a personal level and he seems to have a good reservoir of humor and self-reflection. i thought i saw these things in dec. 07 at an apperance of obama in nh.
Genuinely happy and optimistic today!
Shopping is hard work! (snark)
I’m surprised that you were surprised. He has always struck me as a pragmatist – he is interested in what works, regardless of the ideological baggage that comes with said policy. Sure he’s great with rhetoric, oratory, and imagery, but he was never the idealistic inexperienced neophyte that the McCain/Clinton camps tried to make him out to be.
As a far leftist, (further than Maddow and Nader) I don’t agree with his agenda, policies, or who he is really serving in office, but I respect his intellect and his ability as a politician.
Did you not catch it? Praise to those who bravely came to these shores seeking a new life. Obama is not descended of slaves, though his children are.
I thought the speech small-minded. An inaugural speech is the time for inspiration. Halfway through I gave up screaming at the TV & went to the ephemeris.
At the moment Obama has Pluto opposed to his natal Venus. (To the degree.) This is a once-in-a-life time aspect & is not good for his marriage.
Obama has Saturn exactly on his Mars, again, to the degree. One astrologer of my acquaintance has described this as Driving with the brakes on (ht Alan Oken). Saturn has just passed Obama’s Mars, which is like braking while you’re driving. Both enormously frustrating, and both part of his Inaugural chart, which, if astrology is to be believed, will set the pattern for the next four years.
Elsewhere, what I term the Double-Whammy: Interaspects between Mercury, Jupiter & Sun – good for puffing up one’s opinion of oneself, or ours of him. It’s a very nice aspect, but when it comes with Mars/Saturn, it’s the DW.
So, yeah, on balance, our new President would rather have been anywhere else, doing anything else. But you have to be President on good days as well as bad.
Great analysis, Pat.
I have one question to ask right now, one that leaped out at me as I listened. When the President commented this, “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”, was he talking about the Taliban blowing up schools for girls, the destruction of Gaza, both or much more?
Did we just hear an admonishment, unfettered, to anyone who destroys, in any part of the world? I believe I did and I certainly, heartily hope so.
As a Brit with long time residence here, I’d like to congratulate America. What a day!
I thought so too. It was a subtle speech. From the damning with faint praise acknowledgement of his predecessor, via the quiet damning of those whose greed and irresponsibilty have wrecked the economy, to the call to everyone to work for change, it was a moving speech. I’m a Brit of Irish ancestry and I watched it all on the BBC web feed at my office desk. If I felt a bit lonely, it was only because so many of my colleagues had gone home to watch it on their TVs. I hope President Obama (doesn’t that sound GOOD!) lives up to the immense hopes we’ve dropped on his shoulders.
Yes, I was heartened by his explicit repudiation of previous illegality and promise that the work to be done would be done in the light of day. Those are serious markers, whatever the rhetorical occasion.
I wish I could have seen Cheyney and Bush’s faces at those remarks.
Mine brought a nascent tear and lump to my throat.
Hail to the Chief indeed, and Godspeed too.
I expected much of him when you were skeptical. Now after Gaza, after his choices of Biden and Emmanuel, I am happy to hear his words and yet my heart is heavy. I don’t like to moan about the future before it happens so I keep bringing myself back to – listen to what he says. I believe he means it.
Some of his statements that the press is taking to be directed at terrorists could also be directed at the Israelis. Respect elected governments. Why don’t you try to build rather than destroy? Etc. But I could be making up stories to comfort myself. We will just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile I am praying for him and for all of us.
My children wanted to know why he was hugging George Bush, knowing how I feel about Bush. “Because he’s a good sport. Because we are all in this together,” I said. My older son has decided he is a McCain partisan (don’t ask, he’s 8 and gets strange ideas, we try to respect his sudden shifts of temper) and I pointed out that McCain also hugged Obama and joined him at lunch. This is the important lesson of the day: we are all Americans here.
Not that it really matters in the grand scheme, but technically, “Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.” is an incorrect statement. The number of individual Americans is 43. Grover Cleveland was both numbers 22 and 24.
I received an email from a good friend in Germany.
President Barack Hussein Obama.
Only in America.
This has been a memorable day and our President has been honest and forthright with his citizens, in his workmanlike speech. It is one that was needed and it lays a path for better times through hard work.
In watching the parade I was stunned with the perfection of the VMI cadets with their Pipers capping it off.
The VMI cadets did you and George C. Marshall proud.
It was a good speech full of pragmatic solutions to the problems facing us today. I was surprised he froze up during the oath to uphold the constitution and I hope it isn’t a sign of cognititve dissonance.
Cheney in the wheelchair reminded me of Dr. Strangelove. It will take me a while to recover from these past eight years.
Well, rick, regarding Hope being the last left in Pandora’s mythical box, I’ve always felt hope was necessarily the last left unflown so as to aleve mankind’s despair at the general condition of being on this earth. According to Robert Graves, one translation of the name Pandora is “all giving” or “she of many gifts.” Hope can be a gift we give ourselves, & each other.
Corny idea these days, yeah? But useful, too.
Obama is a man who understands and is comfortable with his values. They drive his speech and his actions and he wants them to drive ours as well.
During the speech, I kept waiting for him to tell us as he did during the campaign to “Go Forth” but on reflection understand why he didn’t. Sometimes you have to step back and let folks work out their own way to climb the mountain.
I put the flag out this morning. It’s good to have it back.
It will be interesting to see how he balances the realpolitik of intellect with his apparent base idealism. More than one President has foundered on the shoals between Principle and Pragmatism. This speech went a long way towards being all-things to all people. Hopefully the inevitable let-down of failed (unrealistic) expectations will not greatly hinder the required workmanship of governance.
President Obama’s speech was sober, powerful, challenging and uplifting. I was surprised and happy the speech was directed to working men and women, people like my parents. Now let’s see how this administration governs.
Dave of Maryland, I wouldn’t worry too much about Obama’s marriage if I were you. Not only do they look and act like a secure couple, but power is the greatest aphrodiasiac of all. My husband thinks there may be a baby in the White House in a year or so
An email I sent to an American friend today :
Congratulations, Terry, on your new President. He is someone whom the USA deserves as its President. Hopefully, he will enable the country to again live up to its ideals and its promise, and thus become once more a beacon of light and hope, not only for its own citizens but also for the rest of the world. And, even if fate and circumstance limit his success, his inauguration itself marks a great success for America. For it means that real Americans have taken back their country from the crooks and grifters, the bigots and fascists, who had managed to seize it 8 years ago. That is why congratulations are in order for you and the millions of others who roused themselves across the land and worked tirelessly to ensure that this day would dawn.
My children wanted to know why he was hugging George Bush, knowing how I feel about Bush.
Regardless of Bush’s behavior in office, he was elected within the bounds of the Constitution – at least in 2004. To paraphrase an old saying; you don’t have to respect the man, but you must respect the office. Maybe Obama is just showing that he respects the office no matter who occupies it.
Speaking of hailing, we should include the farewell. And is always the custom at any Hail & Farewell, where’s the booze??
Obama covered all population bases. Those that made the overseas trip here seeking adventure as well as those that that endured the lash. I, for one noted that when he thanked the veterans for their service, he also included those that served at Khe Sanh! (thus including those from that contentious war)
As Ormolov mentioned, George Mitchell reprising his role as a mideast facilitatorwould be a homerun pick. The symbolism- a heavyweigh creditiantialed Arab-American. A former Senate majority leader with success in the Northern Ireland theater.
What he said the last go round is instructive. Many people that don’t want the problem solved make the excuse saying it’s intractable because it’s ancient. Mitchell replies that any problem created my men can be solved by men.
Perhaps Obama’s speech was not that of a poet or an idealist. It was, though, the speech of a leader.
All day it’s felt like the drapes have been pulled back, the window opened, and fresh air is spilling throughout.
since this was for me the somewhat unexpected, if delightgul, culmination of the efforts that consumed most of my active working days, ai was deeply moved. The seriousness, the calls for responsibility, for shared edeavor, for sacrifice, and above all to risk, Do not surprise. Every good community organizer I.ve ever known devlopes those awarenesses, simply as part of the being ina coummujity, getting to know it, and helping people within it to begin to shape their own lives and destiny. A ahaping which always comes about in the face of people and forces that reist and seek to crippleit. forces with real power and capabilities. Pragmatism and frequently profundity emerge for the good ones out of this matrix.
The challange is routinely significant and the odds of a decent outcome often not high. It takes real workmanship, discipline, seriousness, and a clear eyed view of human reality, of all concerned.
So far I am routinely less surprised by him than impressed. And I am clearly aware that the realities he in stepping into are seriousloy imposing and that one can hope but there are no sure things. I am hopeful, excited, and deeply aware of how difficult and dangerous the journey ahead is.
the best Organizers take the promise of america and the the rules of the game and train the poor and dispossed how they can utilize those to enhance their lives and communities. which is clearly the pattern of his approach. when it works it can be very powerful.
Optimax — Obama didn’t really freeze up during the oath; rather, Justice Roberts garbled the oath a bit and Obama tried to get things back on track. Vide this report from the Christian Science Monitor:
“It was during the Oath of Office. There was a miscue between Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and the president-elect. Words got fumbled, there was an awkward pause, and the two men talked on top of each other….
Basically, it came down to the word “faithfully” and where it is mentioned during the oath.
Justice Roberts said, “”I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear [pause] that I will execute the Office of the President faithfully.”
The oath is supposed to read, “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President.”…
[Obama] followed Roberts’s lead for a few words before seeming to realize that Roberts botched it…. [T]he president-elect stopped and nodded as if to say, “try again.”
The justice gave it another shot. Obama voiced whatever he could to get Roberts back on track and the ceremony concluded.”
Reagan was a good communicator also, but he was a disaster for the country. I was not impressed by Obama’s speech.
But I was very happy with his attendance and speech to young enlisted and junior officers at the Military Ball. For that one appearance with young wounded veterans and their families I will forgive him for all his trespasses. It may (or not) have been politically motivated, but it was a gesture that was long overdue in Washington.
This is from MSNBC:
Within days, Mr. Obama also is expected to issue executive orders to begin closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay, reversing Mr. Bush’s restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and restoring funding for family-planning programs overseas.
Closing GTMO, ending torture, and a more realist foreign policy are things to be thankful for. However, Federal cash for embryonic stem cells and tax dollars for third world abortions are some of the reasons this Catholic union man did not vote for Obama (and unchecked illegal immigration that stagnates the wages of the blue collar worker).
Don’t be too excited about our new President. He is a Chicago politician who latched onto some shady people to climb to the top in that sharp-elbowed city. Once at the top and those contacts that helped him rise became burdens, he dropped them. Very icy, very calculated.
These traits may serve him and the American people well during his Presidency. Then again, he may have to latch onto other undesirables to ensure and strengthen his reign (think Kristol, Bill and Perle, Richard).
Every time I get down thinking about Obama as President, I shudder as I think about a Pres. McCain or four more years of Bush. Best wishes Mr. President!
Interesting and ironic that we have both elected and executed a “Hussein” in the last few years.
Great comments. I am very delighted for a number of reasons:
1. having a president who can talk in complete, coherent sentences;
2. having a president who does not smirk at me like a fat cat who just ate the canary;
3. having a president who is able to allow himself to radiate pure joy (did you see him at the neighborhood ball dancing with Michelle?)
4. having a president who is able to talk about the duty of work and the quiet dignity that is sometimes the only thing that keeps one going (as opposed to the crass accumulation of resources).
This will no doubt be a wonderfully awful stretch for the Obama’s. The astral and earthly playing fields are daunting. My prayers are with them.
Obviously there was a section of the Presidents speech that is most pertinent to me. What is your take on his message to the Muslim world?
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect”
Will that mutual respect extend to respecting the democratic choices of the “Muslim” World I wonder? By the Summer you have the prospect of the Palestinian people still having Hamas as their last elected leaders and the Lebanese, if all polls are correct, will have elected the Hizballah-led opposition in Lebanon. In Lebanon especially, the Russians are muscling in with the impending delivering of the 10 migs (yes totally symbolic but nevertheless…) Will Obama allow Lebanon going into the Russian sphere and if not how do you think he will stop it? By engagement or confrontation?
“To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”
A message to whom? Iran? Israel (conceivable?)?
“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
All of the US’s allies in the Middle East?
More empty rhetoric? Messages to the obvious candidates or a real change in American foreign policy?
If the George Mitchell story turns out to be true and its not Dennis “screw the Arabs” Ross, its an optimistic start – I believe Mitchell is half Lebanese – At least he’ll appreciate the humus that Ross obviously did not.
Small point, but optimax thinks Obama “froze up” during the oath. Chief Justice Roberts is the one who got the wording wrong, and Obama was giving him a second to correct himself, which he started to do a split second too late, after Obama was already reciting back the incorrect words…If anyone has a cognitive dissonance it is Roberts. Or maybe he just instinctively won’t split an infinitive.
Regarding George Mitchell. Recall how he made Sharon crazy the last time he was there – the zionists can’t be that happy with his appointment.
Obama addressed ‘the Muslim world’; apparently the idea that there is one has started to sink in in some places. Having one foot in both worlds, I believe that decent Americans and decent Muslims can not only co-exist but can thrive together. The most indecent one of all has headed back to Texas. Maybe now right minded people with good intentions can start to repair the damage that has been done.
The zionists must have fainted when they heard Obama say that.
As an ingrained pessimist about the chances of a more realistic U.S. approach to the Middle East, I have expected little as regards that area of policy. But the reports of the appointment of George Mitchell as Special Envoy give a glimmer of hope.
The American mediation in Northern Ireland, in which he was a major player, did a lot to prevent the situation there turning into a Lebanon-style catastrophe, as it could very easily have done.
Perhaps this at least indicates that Obama is looking seriously for ways of escaping the influence of the Zionist lobby, and turn Israel back from its current suicidal path.
I was also deeply heartened by Obama’s hugging George Bush. With so much anger flying around, it is heartening to see him taking steps to soothe hurt feelings.
But then my wife, who was always much less sceptical about him than I, said from the first that Obama was a gentleman.
Colonel Lang, you are absolutely right.
I would only add that the speech completely repudiated the man sitting with his little coterie of bullies and thieves on his left (Bush, Cheney, Scalia, etc.).
It was as if Obama had decided that the highest value was honesty, or as he quoted George Washington as having put it: “virtue and hope”.
I was relieved to find out it was Roberts who fumbled the hand-off. Maybe Roberts was disappointed he didn’t get to appoint a president. I thank God he didn’t.
I point out with some pride and hopefully not hubris that Mr. Mitchell is a Mainer. There is a sensibility that he brings to his efforts that I think embodies that Yankee practicality that tends to repell BS and considers indefagitable persistence to be a key virute.
the opponents are not the “zionists” b/ the “ziocons.”
there are many responsible zionists such as uri avnery.
it is as important to make that distinction as to make the one b/n muslims in general as takfiri salafists.
there are many israelis that have co-opted humus and zhatr.
mitchell, although gentically half irish, culturally is all lebanese-american b/c his dad was an orphan adopted by an american-lebanese family.
I wanted to add this and I’m irritated I forgot about it.
My wife and I attended an Eddie Izzard show at Radio City Music Hall. He pleaded with us to make Barak our president if only for the reason that if that happened, we wouldn’t have to travel the world trying to convince everyone we were really Canadian!
Actions, not words- even if they be a “workman’s words”.
If tax-dodger/liar Geithner is named Secretary of the Treasury (remember Obama fully endorsed the criminal bailout swindle)
that will be all the work of this man I need to see.
I watched Bush FDIC chief and now Obama nominee Sheila Bair on CNBC claim that the banks are well capitalized and solvent.
I hope that while Obama still has the people’s backing and the wind behind his sails he will stop this type of egregious and dishonest behavior. Sheila Bair and others on the Obama economic team should not be in the business of “pumping” up stocks with materially false information.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that our banks are not well capitalized and solvent – they would not be asking for taxpayer handouts (bankster welfare) if that was the case.
Then you have the fact that Tim Geithner – Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee and consequently the IRS overlord conveniently “forgets” to pay his income tax on wage income he received while at the IMF. He made no effort to pay his tax due even after he knew he was delinquent until he became the nominee. This is not a simple ethical lapse. Obama should be true to his words and hold high standards of behavior when it comes to high officials being accountable to the rule of law. The right message is for Obama to withdraw Geithner’s nomination instead of giving him a pass. And the IRS should charge him a fine as it does all taxpayers that are delinquent.
Its acts like these that increase citizens cynicism – which Obama says he wants to change. He can start today in the most obvious way.
As so many others I was deeply moved by this President’s inaugural address.
Here is a man who sincerely believes that unification is our true and only God given goal – and has the courage to voice his belief without restraint or fear of sounding meek.
We should all of us be thankful for this opportunity to heal and be healed through his efforts.
Hail to the Chief!
The Geithner lapse bothers me too. Because it seems part and parcel of the culture of opportunistic self-serving on Wall Street that sunk us deep in the present economic morass. Does it matter how well he understands the problems? He may have been too smart by half already.
I would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that his original failure to pay was an oversight – though one is not reassured when a top banker seems not to recall the basic social security tax requirements that every independent consultant knows.
But here is the rub, as I understand it. Apparently, when the IRS caught up with Geithner, two years of missed payments had passed the statute of limitations. So he was not required to pay those taxes. And he chose not to do so. This was a choice, not an oversight. Until the Obama review caught it.
In other words, Geithner had no intention of ever paying those taxes. He had gotten away with it. And unlike most of us, who do not occupy powerful positions, the gentlemen of the IRS gave Geithner a bye on penalties too.
Playing the dark side of the law. Taking whatever profits you can get away with. And privileged treatment for the privileged from the law enforcers. Not the model one would think that President Obama wants at the head of the great money forge.
Or is this a case of it taking a thief to catch thieves? So to speak.
Hail to the Chief Indeed!
Hail to the Chief Indeed!
Watching the Inaugural Address, I said to my partner, this must be uncomfortable for W. My partner replied that the criticisms probably went over W’s head. Today we read in the NY Times that “Some on the Bush team” regarded the speech as ungracious.
That the Bush team values good manners above all else is no revelation. What the speech revealed about the new president was more important. Obama is very gifted at raising emotion in others, but also very skilled at keeping his own emotions and feelings under wraps.
Here is the passage that I think most got under the Bush acolytes’ skin: “Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”
Both on the page and in the (televised) flesh, I see these words as an expression of anger barely suppressed. He is judging Bush on what were supposedly Bush’s own terms: responsibility. He’s judging Bush based on an objective criterion: the state of our nation’s economic health. We’re in deep trouble and Obama’s anger is justified.
When W took office the Federal Government was in surplus. Whatever criticisms you may have of Bill Clinton, he took over a government with a deficit at the the time of historic proportions.
Bill Clinton did not give a speech similar to Obama’s, in large part because GWHB’s administration had been much more responsible than that of his son’s. Our adventure in Iraq in the 1990’s was limited, it was paid for by our allies and it did not damage either our armed forces or the national interest. Bill Clinton mostly maintained the GWHB status quo, protected the Kurds while they worked things out and used our assets to keep Saddam in check, probably more successfully than even Clinton realized.
The huge deficits of the early 1990s were not a result of GHWB’s profligacy. Instead, they were lower than they otherwise had been because he cleaned up the savings & loan mess bqueathed him by Reagan. He raised taxes to do it. This cost him dearly among the Republican base and was a key factor in giving Clinton the election.
Brad DeLong quotes John Stuart Mill “Lord, enlighten thou our enemies. Sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions, and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers: we are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom; their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength…’
Right now, I think we should all be praying that the Republicans become enlightened. It was not Republican policy in 1991 to engage in war without preparation; how did it become Republican policy in 2003? It was not Republican policy under GHWB that “deficits don’t matter.” How did it become Republican policy in 2001?
Obama gives all appearances of being a credible, serious, intelligent president. The more he is president, the more he will need an opponent that has at least some intellectual credibility. At the present state, that is more likely to come from the Democratic party than the Republican. We should all be angry.
Dies ist ein großer Ort. Ich möchte hier noch einmal.