Archive for the ‘Abraham Lincoln’ Category

Obama Inauguration: Unforgettable Moment, ‘Subdued’ Speech

January 21, 2009

Unforgettable. Historic.  A massive outpouring of feeling, emotion, joy.  High hopes.  The throng of crowds and watchers world-wide.

That’s the lasting memory of Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

Much was tied to race in America, the shadow of slavery somehow mythically lifted, renewed hope and promise.

How could words meet the expectation? The moment?

Political speech writers and the politicians themselves cannot lip synch like rock stars what worked before.  Most Americans know the words to Barack’s Greatest Hits; so how can that be surpassed?

It has to be surpassed by history not yet written, not yet made.

The inauguration speech was a little like a Bono concert in an acoustically flawed arena; or with a bad back up group.  It lacked greatness.

Gerard Baker of The Times in London was looking for some “Kennedy-esque, or Rooseveltian quotations for the ages.”

Bill Schneider of CNN wrote it was “the right speech for the times.”

Peggy Noonan said, “the Inaugural Address itself was somewhat subdued.”

I, too, longed to find the words that would one day be etched into granite, like “Ask not what your country can do for you….”

So maybe this was not the time nor the place for such a speech that would always be overshadowed by the moment, the feeling, the history anyway….

On days like this, speeches can become covenants.  So maybe Barack Obama was smart enough to know, the words future generations remember, the words that record his greatness contributed to America,  the words someday etched  into stone, are yet to come.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) gets a thumbs up from his daughter ...               
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) gets a thumbs up from his daughter Sasha after taking the Oath of Office as the 44th President of the United States, during the inauguration ceremony in Washington January 20, 2009.REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)

Related:
Obama Delivers A Speech of Realism that Failed To Hit the Heights

Text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural address 

President Obama’s Inaugural Speech: “The time has come to set aside childish things”

The expectations were high:
Obama: Nation’s Hopes Never Higher, Times Seldom Tougher, Give Us Your Highest Vision

CNN (Bill Schneider):
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/
01/20/schneider.obama.speech/index.html

Peggy Noonan:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1232
48758908299555.html

President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, ... 

Obama’s first words — “I stand here today humbled by the task before us” — echoed the first paragraph of the first inaugural address.

“He is as much symbol as substance, an icon for the youth and a sign of deliverance for an older generation that never believed a man with his skin color would ascend those steps,” said the International Herald Tribune.

What a great moment!

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01
/21/obama.international.press.reaction
/index.html

Obama Delivers A Speech of Realism that Failed To Hit the Heights

January 21, 2009

In the historic vastness of the moment, the unique and unprecedented nature of the event, there was always a risk that the message itself would be overshadowed. At the swearing-in of America’s first African-American President, amid crowds on a scale never witnessed before in Washington, and in all the usual pomp and pageantry of a presidential inauguration, the great set-piece inaugural speech – even from a highly accomplished orator – was in danger of being eclipsed.

But this was Barack Obama, now President Barack Obama, and if anyone’s oratory can rise to even the highest occasion, it is surely his.

And yet, perhaps because the US is confronting its gravest set of circumstances in at least a generation, and perhaps because of the weight of expectations of all those millions of people waiting for a touch of the magic of his famed rhetoric, this was not an occasion on which his oratory soared.

By Gerard Baker
Times (UK)

There were few truly memorable pieces of phraseology – no Kennedy-esque, or Rooseveltian quotations for the ages.

He laboured hard to echo the tone and cadence of his biggest campaign performances. And there was more than a hint of a self-conscious echo – distractingly – of the speeches of his hero and fellow Illinoisan, Abraham Lincoln.

The language in particular sounded decidedly 19th century in parts – all those commands to “know” some or other intent of US policy, all those glancing biblical references.

But it wasn’t up to Lincoln’s standards – which perhaps is asking too much. In fact, it may not have been really memorable at all. It’s unlikely that most people will remember a phrase from it a few weeks from now, let alone a century. In fairness it was a speech more obviously measured to the practical immensity of the immediate challenges. It was directed at two audiences: a hopeful but anxious one at home, and an uncertain but hopeful one overseas.

To the global audience, Mr Obama signalled, perhaps more sharply than expected, the different path he intends to take from that of his predecessor.

In remarks that presaged important policy announcements in the next few days, President Obama indicated that the way he prosecutes the war on terrorism will change markedly from George W. Bush’s approach.

“As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” In the next few days he is expected to order the eventual closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp and to bar harsh interrogation treatment of detainees.

“Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediency’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.”

And though Mr Obama warned terrorists that the US would pursue and defeat them, and he promised to disengage from Iraq and achieve victory in Afghanistan, perhaps most striking was the distinction between Mr Obama’s inaugural tone and that of Mr Bush’s second inauguration four years ago.

There was no reference yesterday to committing the US to the eradication of tyranny in the world. Instead, Mr Obama contented himself with warning tyrants that they were on “the wrong side of history”.

But the bulk of his speech, and his focus, was on the domestic challenges facing his Administration. All new presidents like to convey the message that the country is in desperate need of a new direction, even when things are going swimmingly. But no one seriously questions the scale of the economic mess that now confronts the US and the loss of national self-confidence is almost palpable.

Mr Obama promised that an activist Government would move quickly on a massive stimulus programme of public spending. But he asked for patience from the American people, warning that it would take time for measures to work. The new President also warned

Obama Overconfident?

December 23, 2008

He’s “The One.”  He’ll take the oath on Lincoln’s bible and will not shy away from comparisons to Linoln. He’s not phased by Putin, Medvedev, Ahmadinijad or Hu….He says he can win over enemies and calm internal and international turmoil. And he has embraced both Rick Warren and Jeremiah Wright….

 

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Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) thinks that President-elect Obama picked same-sex marriage opponent Rick Warren to give the inauguration invocation because Obama “overestimates” his ability to unify people.

“Oh, I believe that he overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences,” said Frank, the first House member to come out of the closet voluntarily.

Frank, on MSNBC on Monday, said that he’s delighted Obama was elected and that the country is headed into the “best time” for public policy since the New Deal.

“But my one question is, I think he overestimates his ability to take people, particularly our colleagues on the right, and, sort of, charm them into being nice,” Frank said. “I know he talks about being post-partisan. But I’ve worked, frankly, with Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, the current Republican leadership. The current Republican leadership in the House repudiated George Bush. I don’t know why Mr. Obama thinks he’s going to have them better than George Bush.

“And so, to be honest, when he talks about being post-partisan, having seen these people and knowing what they would do in that situation, I suffer from post-partisan depression,” Frank said jokingly.

By Walter Alarkon
The Hill

Related:
‘Overwhelming’ expectations worry Biden

Read the rest:
http://briefingroom.thehill.com/2008/12/22/rep-frank-obama-overestimates-ability-to-charm/

Obama and Lincoln: Historians Mixed (As Usual)

December 23, 2008

We’ve listened to dozens of high sounding speeches and we’ve heard the media gush while comparing President-elect Obama to the likes of Franlin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The President-elect himself has not been shy about adopting the comparison to Lincoln — one might think Abraham Lincoln was Mr. Obama’s role model and mentor and teacher and friend.

This news Just Today:  “President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau said.

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

Now CNN is asking what is Mr. Obama’s favorite bible passage?
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/24
/inauguration.scripture/index.html

Obama is also tracing the train route that Lincoln took to Washington and holding a welcome event at the Lincoln memorial ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

And, at least here at Peace and Freedom we’ve said to ourselves, let’s please allow for some miracles before we bestow saintood status upon the President-elect.  Let’s allow a bit of time for governing….

FDR had accomplishments of the Great Depression and World War II to guide historians.  Lincoln battled to keep the Union together during years of Civil War.

So we are somewhat reluctant to compare the President-elect to other great men until and unless he establishes himself as –  another great man.  As it stands now, he is a and the President-elect.

And that is an historic accomplishment all its own.

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Bt Matt Carey
CNN

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s interest in “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best-selling book on President Lincoln and his cabinet.

But the president-elect may want to put a new Lincoln book on his nightstand, “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” (Penguin).

The work by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson explores how the Illinois lawyer and self-taught military strategist managed to successfully prosecute the nation’s bloodiest war.

Like Lincoln, Obama enters office without any military experience of his own, yet he becomes commander in chief during a time of not one but two wars. What can Obama learn from Lincoln’s example? CNN put that question to McPherson, but first we discussed how the 16th president developed into arguably the country’s greatest commander in chief. The following is an edited version of the interview.

Read the entire interview:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/boo
ks/12/23/mcpherson.lincoln/index.html

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By Alexander Burns and John F. Harris
Politico

In Barack Obama’s appearance last month on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the conversation turned to the president-elect’s long-time love of Lincoln.

“There is a wisdom there,” Obama told interviewer Steve Kroft, “and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”

Humility? Obama’s frequent invocations of Abraham Lincoln — a man enshrined in myth and marble with his own temple on the National Mall — would not at first blush say much about his own instincts for modesty or self-effacement.

Abraham Lincoln

And now there are early rumblings of a backlash to Obama’s ostentatious embrace of all things Lincoln, with his not-so-subtle invitations to compare the 44th president to the 16th, the “Savior of the Union.”

Simply put, some scholars think the comparisons have gone a bit over the top hat.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081215/pl_politico/16569

Blagojevich: Panicked, Irrational, Delusional Yet A Charmer?

December 15, 2008

Governor Rod Blagojevich is a polished speaker who can win over elderly women at luncheons in southern Illinois with his earnest attention, and eloquently recite from memory historical passages from the lives of the leaders he says he most admires — Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Robert F. Kennedy, Alexander Hamilton, Ronald Reagan.

And yet, Blagojevich, 52, rarely turns up for work at his official state office in Chicago, former employees say, is unapologetically late to almost everything, and can treat employees with disdain, cursing and erupting in fury for failings as mundane as neglecting to have at hand at all times his preferred black Paul Mitchell hairbrush. He calls the brush “the football,” an allusion to the “nuclear football,” or the bomb codes never to be out of reach of a president.

By Monica Davey
The International Herald Tribune

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti leave a downtown ... 
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti leave a downtown office building Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Chicago. Blagojevich was arrested this week on federal charges that he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

In 1996, a Democrat who shared a campaign office with Blagojevich, John Fritchey was told that his stepfather had suffered a serious stroke. He walked over to Blagojevich, who was making fund-raising calls, and shared the news.

“He proceeded to tell me that he was sorry, and then, in the next breath, he asked me if I could talk to my family about contributing money to his campaign,” recalled Fritchey, now a state representative and a critic of the governor. “To do that, and in such a nonchalant manner, didn’t strike me as something a normal person would do.”

Yet even political figures like Fritchey say they were stunned by his arrest last week on charges of conspiracy and soliciting bribes.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/15
/america/15blagojevich.php