Hey, this guy Obama can give a pretty good speech. There were parts of his inaugural address that I really liked. This bit, for instance, is a clear swipe at the Republican party and part of a genuine political vision for the future that I wish the Democrats could always enunciate so clearly.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
But my favorite part, and I think the heart of his speech, was where he threw out a few liberal dogwhistles: Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall (that is, equal rights for women, blacks, and gays).
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
There were a few bits I did not care for at all. One was the too frequent invocation of god, of course: when you’re calling on this generation to work for a better world, don’t undercut it all by calling on or crediting a magical being.
Worst, though, was his claim that “A decade of war is now ending” and “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war”. This is not a president who can make any claim of contributing to world peace, or that he’s even diminished American militarism. I heard that and wondered whether he was going to be just as hypocritical with regards to his fine words about equality and justice.
But maybe he’ll do better this term: maybe he actually will recall all the troops, shut down the terrorism by drones, and actually improve security at home.