More Inauguration Observations

Jason Singer
Mar 23, 2010

Someone on my last blog posting (http://www.sanduskyregister.com/articles/2009/01/20/viewpoints/blogs/jason_singer/1097444.txt) asked for more insight into President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday, so I thought I’d make a few quick points.

Two parts of the speech stood out to me.

The first was when Obama talked about how “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.”

I thought this line did two things: First, I thought it perfectly summed up the historic nature of the occasion.

Second, I thought it articulated the astounding progress this country has made in a relatively short period of time.

I mean, just think about that line. In 1948, if Barack Obama’s father had visited Washington D.C., he couldn’t have enjoyed a beer at Old Ebbitt’s Bar or used the bathroom in The Smithsonian Institute.

He wasn’t even allowed in those places.

But fast forward just two generations, and his son is the 44th president of the United States of America.

Incredible. Just incredible.

The second part that jumped out at me was when Obama alluded to Corinthians 13:11 from the Bible:

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

I thought this quote perfectly articulated Obama’s overall message since his campaign began: At this moment in crisis, and regardless of race, religion or political conviction, Obama needs the American people to set aside our petty squabbles, to forget about the mundane things Republicans and Democrats often fight about, and to focus on big issues where we have common ground.

Can he achieve these goals? I don’t know.

Obama has admitted he can’t change things by himself.

He has repeatedly said he needs the American people to make sacrifices: Republicans and Democrats needs to make political compromises; citizens needs to make lifestyle changes; citizens need to give service to their communities and their country.

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility,” Obama said.

I believe if the American people and American leaders accept that responsibility, we can turn this country around together.

If we’re willing to get re-trained to work in factories dealing with green energies; if we’re willing to recycle; if we’re willing to change our lifestyles; if we’re willing to give military and community service; if we’re willing to make political compromises; if our leaders are willing to be honest and moral, and not fall into the traps of greed and excess; if we do all these things, then Obama’s presidency can be a great success.

He may have the vision, but we as American citizens have to carry that vision out.

And if we can’t, he may fail.

He may fail, much in the same way many of President Clinton and President Bush’s policies have failed in retrospect.

It’s on us.

Comments

Anonymous

While I respect Obama and his drive to get things done, I fear that he will be met with a wall of politics that he can't overcome. He may want change, but I think he'll quickly realize that the current political system of lobbying and money is far too entrenched and that the Congress is not willing to change.

I say that not because I agree with his ideas, ideals, or aspirations, but because in order for change to really happen, the current political beauracracy (sp?) has to go. But I think we all realize that that isn't going to change any time soon.

Anonymous

So, in essence, if Obama fails - it's OUR fault?

I wasn't at all inspired by the inauguration speech. It was filled with political cheapshots (just like how Obama is using the whitehouse website to detract from President Bush's legacy) If you compare the inauguration speech to Obama's tone throughout his campaign you'll see that Obama's next course of action is to lower expectations for his administration.

Anonymous

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your comments.

I re-read Obama's speech, to see exactly how much was "filled" with critical language. By my count, 200-350 of the words in the speech were used to criticize the Bush administration or the actions/initiatives of previous political and economic leaders.

Let's be clear: I say 200-350, because if you're a fan of Obama, you might not consider something a "cheap shot," while a critic of Obama might think the exact opposite. But let's air on the conservative side, and say 350 words were used to criticize the previous administration.

Since the entire text contained about 2,400 words, that would make about 14.5 percent of the speech critical. Consequently, I wouldn't say it was "filled" with critical language.

I would also point out that much of the critical language was directed at foreign leaders, especially those of the Muslim world who have disagreed with the Bush administration's policies.

In my opinion, Obama was using that language to signal to those leaders that this was new day and a new chance at forming alliances. He wasn't just criticizing for criticism's sake — he was letting those leaders know that Obama is different from Bush, and they should take one more shot at diplomacy, instead of just conceding the US and Muslim countries are necessary enemies and will always be enemies.

I categorically DON'T think he was doing it just to affect Bush's legacy. Since Bush's approval rating was 13 percent at the end of his term, I think — at least for immediate future — Bush's legacy is decidedly negative. Obama can't do anything to worsen it, and doesn't need to. It doesn't help him politically; he wants to win the support of Republicans and Democrats alike.

Now I will answer your question about Obama's failures being "our fault."

I think right now, the United States faces such monumental challenges, it will take all of us overcome them.

Obama cannot do it himself, which he repeatedly said throughout the campaign. If we want to avoid future recessions; if we want to revamp our economy for long-term sustainability; if we want to stop global warming; and if we want to make sure our children and our children's children still have the opportunity at the American Dream, then we all need to do our part.

So in terms of those big-picture issues, yes, it's on us if we cannot achieve those goals. Those are simply things Obama cannot do himself.

Thanks for reading.

- Jason

Taxpayer

OK Jason, can you even attempt to interpret what the "poet" Elizabeth Alexander said during her entire presentation during Obama's inauguration? I and several million others do not have the slightest idea what she was trying to rhyme about. I was hoping for some semblance of cadence to poetry, however, there was no meter to any couplet. Can you help me out?

cm.sandusky

Only history will tell..
Bush's approval rating when he left office was in 30's..congress, which is still IN POWER is in the 20's..
If you are looking for change you need to clean house in washington...and not just the White House.

Anonymous

You're correct CM. I think Obama has surrounded himself with some good people — including a couple of Washington outsiders — but only time will tell if it's enough to bring about true change and usher in a new mentality.

I think the fact that Hillary Clinton, who just one year ago was considered "the most divisive person in politics," was confirmed 94 to 2 by the senate is a good sign that Republicans and Democrats are willing to work together at least temporarily.

We'll see how long that lasts.

I'd also like to make a correction in my previous comment. Bush's final approval rating was 22 percent, not 13 percent. VP Cheney's was 13 percent. That was an error on my part.

(Click here for final approval ratings: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2...)

Thanks for reading!

- Jason

cm.sandusky

Bush's approval rating (final)
ABC/Washington Post 33%
CNN/Opinion Research 31%
Fox/Opinion Dynamics 34%
NBC/Wallstreet Journal 27%
Usa Today/ Gallop 34 %

Congress approval rating (final)

Fox 23%
NBC 23%
USA Today 19%

No president was ever popular in a time of war. Like I said, history will tell.
Do you remember 9/12/2001...Remember that feeling we ALL had..Seeing both parties in congress, working together, parties aside..To see all americans united, didn't matter what party we belonged to....That's the feeling WE should have held on to....
9/11 was a terrible tragedy..but 9/12..that was a good day to be an american..the pride was back..
We forget to soon, we as a society have become greedy...and that is what led to this mess in the economy..

Anonymous

Jason, you're such a preening douche bag. You can't be more than 25 and probably have never been out of this country. Please tell me if you have. (But don't lie.)

Don't "thank" me for reading your blog. I only read it because all of you guys combined only update your blogs a few times a week. Most of the entries 5uck anyway. Would you please start entertaining me and stop trying to "educate" me. That's the problem with you guys: You think that because you have a blog you're somehow a beacon of wisdom. How silly. If you're an insightful person, it doesn't show through your writing. Let it shine through, baby!

By the way: Obama's speech was full of political cheapshots. (Oh pause, you performed a word count, so you've scientifically proven that it's NOT full of cheapshots.) [Sigh] What a gay defense of what you wrote.

Anonymous

PS: Don't write off what I wrote as a "flame" post. Read it. Take it to heart.

I'm really serious when I say that you sound like a tedious, preening douche bag.

It's nothing that a little work couldn't change.

Anonymous

Jason, one more thing:

Capitalism or socialism?

What do you think made this country great?

beepx22

I'd like to take on your last question sigh. In my opinion, Capitalism is the life blood of a strong America. With that said, I've often said that Communism or Socialism would work, if two things could happen.

1. Disolvment of greed:

If you could knock human greed out of the equation it would work, since you can't Marxism can't and won't work.

2. True Dedication to the Dialect.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." That's the underlying principle to Communism.

Simply stated that the Individual is responsible for the state, and vice versa. If the State needs labors to build bridges, then the people build bridges, If the people need food and medicine, The state gives them food and medicine.

In theory this works, though once agin greed shows its head. When the classly society breaks up into classes, then Communism becomes nothing more that a vast serfdom. This happened in Russia, among other places. The people didn't want to work, the state didn't want to help (Sound familiar?)

It seems that America had actually figured it out to a point. Keep a Capitalist Economy going, produce goods, which kept the people working, which allowed more goods to be produced. Use social programs to help those who need them, and have them pay into the programs when they didn't. The Means of Production never entered the hands of the Workers, but they could oversee what happened through the unions. Non-union shops had no choice but to offer similar benifits to maintain a work force.

Enter again Greed. The Factory owners need to reduce cost, and start shipping jobs over sees. The Factory workers want more benifits and further the hit. The banks offer bad loans on everthing. Straw after Straw piled up until the eagle couldn't fly, and everything started a slow crash. Now both sides point the figure at the other and say "They're the ones who've killed the american dream." When actually it was all of us together.

With that said, which system made America Great? Neither, what made America Great was a country full of people that understood what we had to do to be great. We'll be great again when People feel that way again.

Anonymous

br, I'm sure that we can get Americans to dedicate themselves to the dialect. Just to prove it: On the first day of Obama's presidency, all citizens who were inspired by his ideals enough to travel to his inauguration proved the power and drive of THE PEOPLE by turning the national mall into a "Post Barackalyptic wasteland."

:)

They couldn't even pick up their own trash.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P...

Anonymous

Communism is AWESOME. (If only it weren't prevented by human nature.)

Anonymous

Dear Reader,

Yes, I have been out of the country, though like everyone, not as much as I'd like.

I've been to Europe, Central America, throughout most of the Caribbean, Mexico and of course, Canada. (I was born in New Hampshire, and lived only 4 hours from Montreal).

As for your other question, I think many things made this country great. The success of our capitalistic economic system is certainly one of them.

I find it amusing though that critics accuse Obama of socialism. Without question, the most Socialist decison any US President has ever made — in the HISTORY of our country — was when Bush part-nationalized nine banks in October, including the four largest banks in America.

Sometimes, when the country is in crisis, you need to put political ideals aside. Even Bush recognized that when he nationalized the banks, even though he — like all of us — love the free market.

But Bush made a tough (yet wise) decision, and Obama must make tough decisions to, to help lead us out of this crisis.

"Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans — me included,"said Ben Bernanke, Bush's selection for chairman of the Federal Reserve. "Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable."

Thanks,
Jason

Anonymous

Jason, you wrote: "But Bush made a tough (yet wise) decision [to nationalize banks]..."

With all due respect Jason, how would you know if nationalizing banks was/is a wise decision?

Anonymous

Jason, you wrote:

"I find it amusing though that critics accuse Obama of socialism. Without question, the most Socialist decison any US President has ever made — in the HISTORY of our country — was when Bush part-nationalized nine banks in October, including the four largest banks in America."

Jason, it doesn't look like you know your American history. If you're sure that Bush's decision was the most 'socialist' WITHOUT QUESTION, in the HISTORY of this country, please name me two other decisions by past presidents that could be classified as "socialist policies."

Anonymous

Good questions. I had an American history concentration in college, so I'm always interested in these types of discussion.

Here's two examples:

- At the outset of World War I, Woodrow Wilson nationalized the majority of the railroads. It lasted three years.

- Another example is the First and Second Banks of the United States. The first was signed into law by George Washington, although it was actually US treasurer Alexander Hamilton's pet project.

The bank's charter expired in 1811, but President James Madison revived the idea in 1816 as the Second Bank of the United States. Both were government-run institutions.

Although these were both significant moves — and there are certainly other examples of Socialist-like policies that have been enacted in the US — I said Bush's decision was the largest because of the scope: The First and Second banks were just single entities, while Bush's plan part-nationalized nine banks.

As for Wilson's nationalizing of the railroads, those companies didn't have the economic impact of companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. None of the railroad companies Wilson nationalized were in the top 50 largest companies in America at the time. So Bush's decision is obviously bigger.

Lastly, I called Bush's decision "wise" because I think if those aforementioned banks — and the six others — failed, they might have sent Wall St. into a tailspin the country couldn't recover from. Obviously, I don't know the future and this could still happen. So I guess it's premature to call it wise. What I should have said was I agreed with the decision.

- Jason

Anonymous

Jason, you don't think that the New Deal was based on socialist ideas?

Anonymous

Also, by your rationale, Bush made a "wise" decision because you agreed with it? (Is that your definition of 'wise?') I'm wondering why I should care what you have to say on this topic? Do you have a degree in economics? Any real world experience with world economics besides what you read on the internet?

As far as Obama's "vision" goes: Why would you want, as a citizen, to "carry that vision out," if you disagree with his underlying values? As a conservative, I disagree with much of Obama's way of thinking and have little faith in his rhetoric beyond his ability to convey confidence. I don't feel that he has the country's best interest at heart, to say the least. And why should I believe otherwise?

Anonymous

Jason, I started my own blog.

http://411firelands.blogspot.com...

beepx22

any system that takes from one person and gives to another is a socialist system, this country is full of them. the New Deal was probably the largest until the bank decision, but i believe it was a good decision. Some will say that the new deal extended the depression, others will say it helped to end it.

Sigh... keep up the good work

Jason, good job on actually writing something started a conversation.