Archive for the ‘address’ Category

Obama’s Inaugural Speech: No Razzle Dazzle, No Promise of the Moon

January 23, 2009

Fascinating speech. It was so rhetorically flat, so lacking in rhythm and cadence, one almost has to believe he did it on purpose. Best not to dazzle on Opening Day. Otherwise, they’ll expect magic all the time.

By Charles Krauthammer
.
The most striking characteristic of Barack Obama is not his nimble mind, engaging manner or wide-ranging intellectual curiosity. It’s the absence of neediness. He’s Bill Clinton, master politician, but without the hunger.

Clinton craves your adulation (the source of all his troubles). Obama will take it, but he can leave it, too. He is astonishingly self-contained. He gives what he must to advance his goals, his programs, his ambitions. But no more. He has no need to.

Which seems to me the only way to understand the mediocrity of his inaugural address. The language lacked lyricism. The content had neither arc nor theme: no narrative trajectory like Lincoln’s second inaugural; no central idea, as was (to take a lesser example) universal freedom in Bush’s second inaugural.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co
ntent/article/2009/01/22/AR2009012203156.html

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Barack Obama inauguration: his worst speech

January 21, 2009

QUITE a day, but not much of speech unfortunately. Obama got where he is by speechifying, but this effort would not have won him many votes. It was his worst on a grand stage, though still better than most politicians could muster.

The delivery, as ever, was first class, but the message was wasn’t clear enough and the language not insufficiently inspiring.

By Alex Spillius
The Telegraph (UK)

As soon as the applause had died down, an African American standing man near me on the Mall said to his friend: “I thought the speech was shit.” Another woman said, correctly, that “we had heard it all before at other events”.

In a way Obama was a victim of his own success. Having given so many dynamic speeches he had set his own bar very high. What he tried to do at his inauguration was tell Americans that they had to sacrifice to make gains, while making them believe this was well within their capabilities. The emphasis on sacrifice was too weak however. 

To the disappointment of many black people in the crowd, he also made but one reference to the enormity of a black man occupying the White House for the first time. Obama has never laboured the issue of his race, but on this historic day the issue needed more.

Jon Favreau, his co-writer, recently admitted that he had been pouring over previous inaugural speeches. That might have been a bad idea. Obama seemed weighed down by the past, and failed to seize the moment.

Read the rest:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/alex_spillius/blog
/2009/01/20/barack_obama_inauguration_
his_worst_speech

On Inauguration Day, One Nation

January 21, 2009

Time and again, incoming presidents point Americans toward unity. Jefferson did so in the great debate over strong central government. Lincoln did when slavery cleaved the country. Now, after decades of cultural and political polarization and in the face of great challenges, it’s Barack Obama‘s turn at choirmaster for the nation’s disparate voices.

Americans excel at pulling together when needed. Look no further than last week’s Hudson River emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549, which combined the expertise of the pilots, the quick response of harbor boats, and the calm aid of crew and passengers.

But such common effort reaches far beyond a crisis, back over the centuries to the ideals that set the American experiment apart.

The diverse faces of the millions who came to witness the swearing in of the country’s first African-American president testify to what ultimately unifies. It’s not ethnicity or religious creed, which define so many nations, but the founding ideals of the United States – liberty, justice, and opportunity for all.

When put into practice, they attract and inspire the world over. They are the reason many in other countries tuned in to President Obama’s inauguration and sent e-mails like this one: “Today, I feel like an American, too.”

These values have had the power to throw off a monarchy, abolish slavery, and make way for women’s suffrage. They have been worth suffering and dying for. They have plied the decades, refining and improving laws and behaviors until almost unawares, they produced a president whose very identity embodies unity as none before him has, and whose personal story is a nonfiction American dream.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama campaigned on oneness. In the weeks since the election, he has put that concept into practice: in his Cabinet, in reaching out to Republicans (including his opponent, John McCain), and in meeting with conservative columnists. He appears to be not just asking for input, but listening. As Jefferson pointed out, woe to that democracy that does not protect minority interests.

Obama repeatedly states that his will be an administration influenced by what works, by empirical evidence – not by party ideology. He’s set a tone that honors that of his political hero, Lincoln: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” Applied consistently, it may earn him charity in return when he disappoints either side – as he will.

So far, Obama’s having a unifying effect. Forty-seven percent of voters rejected him on Nov. 4, yet a New York Times/CBS News poll shows 79 percent of Americans are optimistic about the next four years under the new president – a level of support greater than that of the past five incoming chiefs.

It’s a tall order, bringing a country together. But Obama is reaching beyond political bridge-building – as hard as that is – to a spiritual union grounded in individuals caring for each other, what he calls “a new era of responsibility.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt hinted at the same in his first inaugural: “These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”

As America’s 44th president recognizes, the job ahead belongs to all of us.

From the Christian Science Monitor

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

January 20, 2009

Wondering if his publisher liked the manuscript of “Les Misérables,” Victor Hugo sent a terse note: “?” His publisher replied as tersely: “!” That was the nation’s response to Barack Obama’s inaugural address, even though — or perhaps because — one of his themes, delicately implied, was that Americans do not just have a problem, they are a problem.

“The time has come,” he said pointedly, “to set aside childish things.” Things, presumably, such as the pandemic indiscipline that has produced a nation of households as overleveraged as is the government from which the householders insistently demand more goods and services than they are willing to pay for. “We remain,” the president said, “a young nation.” Which, even if true, would be no excuse for childishness. And it is not true. The United States is older, as a national polity, than Germany or Italy, among many others.

By George F. Will
The Washington Post

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. George Washington, although elected unanimously by the electoral college, confessed “anxieties” and adopted the tone of a servant “called” to crushing duties:

“The magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/a
rticle/2009/01/20/AR2009012002612.html?h
pid=opinionsbox1

Text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural address

January 20, 2009

Text of President Barack Obama‘s inaugural address on Tuesday, as prepared for delivery and released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

OBAMA: My fellow citizens:

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.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. 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. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. 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.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

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 faint-hearted — 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 towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

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.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

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.

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.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

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.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. 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. 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.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

May God Bless you.  And God Bless America.

18 minutes, 10 seconds

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

January 20, 2009

My expectations for Barack Obama starting on this Inauguration Day could not be higher.

He’s a gifted public orator with a huge election win under his belt and “political capital” like few ever before him.  As the throng on the mall this morning shows, people from all over America love this man and expect greatness from him.

He has to deliver.

He has to change the nation’s course and perhaps that of the world.

I want to hear his real vision.  Not rhetoric.  I want to hear a master plan from a Harvard educated black man that has risen as high as any American can go.

I want to hear “We Americans are no longer the land of pork barrel spending, party divisions, racial strife and discord.  We will meet any challenge, climb any mountain….”

He needs to state a vision that is more than “hope” and less than a blueprint.  He needs to make me think all the talk in Congress on “infrastructure” in the stimulus is just a bunch of pigs talking pork.  I want President Obama to say, “Listen up.  There is a new law in town and in America and in the world…..”

What do the pundits say we’ll hear:

Washington Post:
“In his much-anticipated inaugural address, Obama will stress the need for “a new era of responsibility” as he lays out the challenges ahead….”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/art
icle/2009/01/20/AR2009012001146.html?h
pid=topnews

Related:
 Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address: What To Expect
.
One of the most common themes among all the presidential inaugural speeches is hope; mixed with an uplifting message on the power of God and prayer and a brighter tomorrow.  Barack Obama’s speech will probably feature his trademark “hope” but he may also issue a real challenge of responsibility, public service and sacrifice.

Related:
Obama’s Inauguration Speech: Sneak Preview
.
Inauguration: In a time of fear, a moment of hope
.
Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

The Washington Post says we should expect the “responsibility” theme full bore:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/200
9/01/18/AR2009011801517.html?hpid=topnews

From CNN:
.
President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural address is one of the most anticipated speeches….
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/20/oba
ma.inauguration/index.html

The Obamas met with the Bushes at the White House on Tuesday after a morning church service.

The Obamas met with the Bushes at the White House on Tuesday after a morning church service.

'This is America happening'

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address: What To Expect

January 19, 2009

One of the most common themes among all the presidential inaugural speeches is hope; mixed with an uplifting message on the power of God and prayer and a brighter tomorrow.  Barack Obama’s speech will probably feature his trademark “hope” but he may also issue a real challenge of responsibility, public service and sacrifice.

Related:
Obama’s Inauguration Speech: Sneak Preview
.
Inauguration: In a time of fear, a moment of hope
.
Obama’s Genius, Inauguration Day, and Hope

The Washington Post says we should expect the “responsibility” theme full bore:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/200
9/01/18/AR2009011801517.html?hpid=topnews

From CNN:
.
President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural address is one of the most anticipated speeches in decades, with many expecting his words to be chiseled into marble some day.
.

Obama aides said that the speech will last 18 to 20 minutes and that Obama will emphasize that America is entering a new area of responsibility.

He will say that America has been hurt by a “me first” mentality that has contributed to the current economic crisis, aides say, and call on individuals — as well as corporations and businesses — to take responsibility for their actions.

Obama has said he has been studying previous inaugural addresses — including President Abraham Lincoln’s and the speeches President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave as he took office amid the Great Depression.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01
/19/obama.speech/index.html