22 Jan

Preaching to the choir

Dana Milbanks at WaPo:

President Obama began his second inaugural address with a reminder that this ceremony, like the 56 inaugurations before it in U.S. history, was a unifying symbol.

“Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution,” he said from the West Front of the Capitol, his voice echoing across the Mall, where hundreds of thousands of people waved American flags. “We affirm the promise of our democracy.”

Thus ended the warm-courage-of-national-unity portion of the proceedings.

What followed was less an inaugural address for the ages than a leftover campaign speech combined with an early draft of the State of the Union address. Obama used the most visible platform any president has to decry global-warming skeptics who “still deny the overwhelming judgment of science.” He quarreled with Republicans who say entitlement programs “make us a nation of takers.” He condemned the foreign policy of his predecessor by saying that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate,” the president informed his opponents.

Not that they were listening.

George W. Bush declined to join former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at the ceremony (Bush’s father missed it, too, although he has been in poor health.) Mitt Romney sent regrets and, it appeared, the vast majority of House Republicans skipped the proceedings as well.

With Republican citizens also shunning the event, the crowd gave huge cheers for liberal favorites — John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, the Clintons, Sonia Sotomayor — and hardly a peep when Lamar Alexander, a Senate GOP leader, gave a magnanimous speech about the moment, “our most conspicuous and enduring symbol of the American democracy . . . this freedom to vote for our leaders, and the restraint to respect the results.”

Obama’s main event was full of crowd-pleasing lines about equal pay, same-sex marriage, poll access, immigration, gun control and health care. Although it tied together the various elements of his agenda, it failed to rise to the moment.

The president read from the founding documents (“We hold these truths to be self- evident”), echoed John F. Kennedy (“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises”), and even tossed in a Neville Chamberlain phrase (“peace in our time”) and some Hallmark sentiment (“Embrace with solemn duty, and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright”). However, the emphasis was unusually political for an inaugural address. Obama reminded his opponents that his oath of office, “like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction.”

       

2 Responses to Preaching to the choir

  1. Wordsmith says: 1

    Tom Ricks:

    The WTF moment for me in Obama’s second inaugural address, delivered Monday at noon, was his use of the phrase “peace in our time.” This came during his discussion of foreign policy, and in such circles, that phrase is a synonym for appeasement, especially of Hitler by Neville Chamberlain in September 1938. What signal does his using it send to Iran? I hope he was just using it to jerk Netanyahu’s chain.

    I also simply didn’t understand what he meant by “a world without boundaries.” But my immediate thought was, No, right now we need boundaries — like those meant to keep Iran out of Syria and Pakistan out of Afghanistan.

    ReplyReply
  2. retire05 says: 2

    @Wordsmith:

    I also simply didn’t understand what he meant by “a world without boundaries.”

    “A” world, i.e. your world, my world, commonly called The United States of America. Open borders, amnesty, Welcome Wagon baskets handed out to illegals who criminally cross our borders without our permission.

    Obama was quite clear in his goals for the future: abolishing the Defence of Marriage Act, amnesty for all illegals, including MS-13 gangbangers who have no criminal record, shoving through his socialist agenda via executive order fiat, higher taxes for the 10% and more welfare payments for the non-productive. And of course, more faux green projects that produce nothing but cost a lot to be non-productive. After all, those donors have to be rewarded.

    ReplyReply

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