A view of the Obama inaugural

My head told me that Obama’s big day was history but my heart just wasn’t in it. The recession is too serious for that. US presidential politics are very important and all that but they’re also great escapism for the irritating chatter of the news channels. OK we noticed. Obama and the Chief Justice fluffed the oath between them. Then he got down to it. The rhetoric lifted but didn’t soar. There were no great soundbites. Thankfully there were no grandiose comparisons with Lincoln. Far more surprisingly, Obama offered no great surge of emotional release to the hundreds of thousands who had braved the biting cold to be part of the fulfillment of a black American dream. This was getting interesting…

Later.. I’ve just focused on a passage which while it applies to a big nation can speak equally well to a small divided community..

…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..

A yawn in cutaway came from a black man in the crowd. Dubya looked bored. This break from the past, Obama’s campaign and the inaugural tradition was good. Better and better..

Obama was grim, man. Sure, this inaugural spoke like all the others of challenges but these were challenges that could have filled the concrete rhetoric of a Gordon Brown speech. Presbyterian challenges in fact. Not about foreign crusades but the domestic economy.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

.. 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.

..our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions –

There were bold thrusts at the neocons of the Cheney tendency and a sharp rebuke for Guantanamo and Abu Graib.

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, yet carefully, no apology came for the essential American way and no soft line was struck on terrorism.

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.

He was self –effacing too about his personal journey. Just a fleeting reference of pride in taking the oath as the son of a man “who sixty years ago would have been refused service in a restaurant.”

And then it was over, the moment of release left to the benediction from an elderly civil rights pastor.
Obama had spoken as an American, almost brutally not an African American. This was mature, this was daring. It was a declaration of purpose that will be remembered as much for what it didn’t say, as for what it said.

  • OC

    ‘Obamas attend pre-inaugural service at St. Johns’s Episcopal Church. Barack and Michelle Obama waved to bystanders, then entered the church to applause from about 200 people. The choir and congregation began singing the hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past.”’

  • wild turkey

    “The time has come to set aside childish things,”

    Brian,

    Just why are you discussing a second rate provincial inaugural celebration on a blog that is devoted to the nuanced purity of politics and culture of Northern Ireland?

  • Brian Walker

    wild turkey – “devoted” is wrong. Centred and “looking out from ” is better. Note Mick’s descriptions of the Slugger mission! NI desperately needs to look out and well as critically examining itself. And perhaps you are taking my point much further than I would want to…

  • Gerry from Derry

    It was nothing special Brian & co…..perhaps if one had been present, the atmosphere might have made it better, but on TV, well I switched off and went to the shop to get my Tele.

    So there we are, four years of Socialism in the States…the One will right the world…..some chance.

  • 6cp

    Allegedly his greatest asset is making speeches, but this one was mediocre, predictable and clichéd.

    I wish him all the best, regardless.

    God bless President Obama and God bless America!

  • 6cp

    Now, enough of the niceties, let’s get down to the real business. It’s time to start mocking the President of the US.

    Did you hear the one about

  • NCM

    “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.”

    That’s funny, former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales would totally disagree with that statement. It’s also funny, because it turns out that Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales was a traitor to the Constitution. May he spend his remaining days in Leavenworth, after a fair trial by his peers.

  • Greenflag

    ‘ May he spend his remaining days in Leavenworth, after a fair trial by his peers. ‘

    Hopefully manacled to Dick Cheney , Darth Rumsfeld and some others -following a fair trial of course .

  • 6cp

    What a delicious irony!

    The articulate ‘messiah’ fluffs his lines and has to do it all over again, while the ‘buffoon’ does his lines perfectly, twice!

    Bush is already better than Obama.

  • “Obama and the Chief Justice fluffed the oath between them. Then he got down to it. The rhetoric lifted but didn’t soar.”

    Four Weddings and a Funeral played out again on the Patomac in front of a mass of a million Obamabots segued into a Colbert-style roast of the Bush policies with a stone-faced Dubya standing by. Who says Obama isn’t funny?

    Perhaps he did not fill his wings because in McLuhan terms He is the message.

    Moreover, his past soars have heightened expectations to the extent that the drop of the Dow below 8000 as he muffed the oath may cause some to ponder that the audacity of hope was really the mendacity of hype. Yer lad has too low a ceiling to soar.

    He has Clinton past the Senate; Geithner has endured the ritual prostration of the penitent but even if he was Charlie Manson the Republican financial constituency demands a man in Treasury goddamn fast. That leaves Holder for the Senate Republicans to slice and dice, unless the Panetta nomination was not just a glittery tidbit to divert the press corps from Richardson’s pay for play problem.

    The Democratic leadership (sic!) has pledged to get the stimulus package out by the third week of February. The Senate Republicans have just served notice that it is too much, the Franken Senate seat just entered the courts again, so many of those Senate seats vacated by the Cabinet members are unfilled and one Massachusetts seat is likely to soon be open.

    The only thing keeping those patriotic Republicans in the Senate from gelding the Obama Administration before the Innaguration DVD is released is Harry Reid. Sleep tight Sluggiepoos.