Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obama's Second Inaugural Address

A good and interesting speech, of course different people will highlight different things. The so called 'news' likes to 'balance', which here means giving platform to whiny, hypocritical, Republicans and their paid barkers. The sensible person must work to tune that out.

President Barack Obama sketched out his vision of America in these political times. He refers to the Jeffersonian vision twice, and wants it to be achieved.
That is our generation's task - to make these words, these rights, these values - of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - real for every American.
The most poetic line refers to the War for the Union, and how its outcome reflected on the achievement of the Jeffersonian ideal, that Lincoln came to understand.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.
This was the dramatic episode of the country's history, and although decided on the battlefield, and formalised in law; it has not been accepted by all, to-day.

Jefferson the founder of the Democratic party, the political Prometheus of America; and Lincoln the first Republican president, and the only actual giant amongst them, and who would now be completely alien to them all. While every Democrat must be a Jeffersonian, there are no Lincolns in his (Republican) party. Jefferson, and Lincoln, are not only giants in American history, but also the world's.

Sometimes his (Obama's) cadence and faded delivery of a sentence's final word is reminiscent of a ministerial pulpit. The rest of the speech limns out the liberal and progressive programme that has been supported by the country since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Here it is somewhat like a campaign speech, but far more like a State of the Union address to Congress, and within skewers the unreasonable opposition. He uses the collective first person 'we' sixty-eight times, 'us' twenty times, and 'our' seventy-seven times.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. 
And then he contrasts this collective agreement to its deniers. Here Kevin Drum lists them,  specifically:
  • To Mitt Romney: "The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social not make us a nation of takers."
  • To the climate change denialists: "Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms."
  • To the neocons: "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."
  • To the voter suppression gangs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and elsewhere: "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote."
  • To the NRA: "Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."
  • To the entire tea party wing of the GOP: "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."
Barack Obama, at least here in this speech, is not speaking to the obstructionists and the opponents, but to the American people to elucidate the common consensus. Monday was the celebration of a successful dream of  Martin King, on the day dedicated to him. It is not so much that both men share African forebears. Though slavery was not strictly a race [it was economic, and political] issue, it was so practically one that it must be recognised. Obama, in his person, triumphed over it; and King's dream of a more just American society is possible. 

There is a north south divide in the United States, and historically it is ironic. Those who wanted to split the Union in defense of slavery, were adamantly against Lincoln and the Republican party. Their entire progeny are now Republicans, and they have no love of Lincoln. They do have an animus against Obama and the Democracy. This animus exists outside the South, but it is allied to other positions, many based on economic royalism, and arch-reactionary conservativism.

The only other theme that Obama includes, and it is of a different nature, is the inclusion of a 'gay' community. It is to be noted that there has been little hubbub about this amongst the critics, it appears to be a settled political matter; although a large portion of people will not countenance such acceptance. It is not an economic argument of contention.
postscriptum: Yesterday, John Boehner realised this in a speech to the Ripon (his party was founded in Ripon, Wisc. 1854) Society. “And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal — to just shove us into the dustbin of history.”

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