I have been a big fan of Obama since before the first contests the Democrat’s nomination in Iowa and New Hampshire. I am not suggesting I predicted he would triumph, but I closely followed the fascinating contests, quietly hoping that would be the outcome – (maybe not so quietly for people who had to suffer being regularly in earshot of me, but I tried to avoid too much public cheer-squadding). So I did make the most of the moment – staying up to watch the Inauguration speech, and then soaking up as much of the endless amount of commentary that has followed since.
I don’t think there is any doubt that there has never before been such widespread global interest in the ascension of a new USA President into office and the first words he would speak in that role.
I think it was a good balanced, measured speech. It did not hit the rhetorical heights that might have been expected, but it was a right speech for the time – focused on the here and now, and the stark reality of the often grim but not insurmountable challenges that we face. There was enough of a shout out to the peoples of other nations and other beliefs, combined with a clear intent to emphasise inclusiveness when it came to action, to give me some hope that there is a chance of a shift to a more positive direction.
My favourite aspect of the speech was the theme touched with these words:
“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 ……. we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.
our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”
We’ll have to wait and see how well those ideals are lived up to, but acknowledging them in such a way is a good start.
As to all the commentary of others, there’s way too much to even start commenting on everyone else’s comments.
But there was one piece I did like – this one from the Political Base blog site, which doesn’t focus on the speech, but on highlighting just a few of the quotes from a few ‘experts’ who dismissively wrote off Obama’s chances in the period after he first announced his candidacy.
The more often we get reminded that many of the ‘experts’ can be little different to anyone else offering an opinion, the better – I refer to myself in that context as well of course. At least Crikey’s Bernard Keanehad the good grace to out himself for his earlier comments that Obama’s nomination was “a McGovernesque disaster” and previously describing him as “the least substantial candidate in a generation”.