Monday, January 21, 2013

The 2013 Inaugural Address

Here are my favorite parts of President Barack Obama's 2013 inaugural address:

"We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

"We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  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. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it."

"...our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  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."

I thought that it was a bold inaugural address, perhaps even bolder and more ideological than Ronald Reagan's first inaugural speech, in which Reagan declared that "Government is the problem".  President Obama did not shy away from controversial issues in his second inaugural address, and he came across as one who was ready to fight for a progressive agenda, whether Republicans liked it or not.  After President Obama gave his speech, he submitted the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense----Hagel, who is controversial with a number of conservative Republicans (and also many gay activists).  I have to admire President Obama's defiance against his Republican critics.  One could argue that it will be counter-productive because President Obama needs to find common ground and work with the other side.  But I have to admit: I still liked watching President Obama's defiance!  I'm reminded of that scene at the end of the West Wing episode "Ways and Means" (Season 3, Episode 3) in which C.J. Cregg looks at the TV in which a Republican is attacking the Bartlett Administration, opens her beer bottle, and says "Come and get us." 

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