Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Obama’s Inauguration Speech: Glittering Generalities

Written by  Thomas R. Eddlem

President Barack Obama opened his presidency with an inaugural address laced with glittering generalities designed to get heads nodding in agreement, but outlined no specific agenda anywhere in the speech. What is he for? The speech outlined a complete catalogue of things he wants to accomplish as president. He wants to ...

•    reaffirm our enduring spirit

•    carry forward … the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness

•    pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America

•    create new jobs

•    lay a new foundation for growth

•    raise health care's quality and lower its cost

•    build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce

•    restore science to its rightful place

•    wield technology's wonders

•    harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories

•    transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age

He supports and believes in ...

•    the greatness of our nation

•    the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things

•    action, bold and swift

•    a new era of responsibility

•    the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny

He says "there is work to be done," and recalling the sacrifices of past patriots, he calls upon us to "brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested ...  we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us,… [carry] forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

As you can see, one thing he’s not against is the abundant use of trite clichés.

In addition, Obama stressed that he’s for “hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism.” All that’s missing are pleas for “more mothers’ love,” “higher prosperity”  and “free beer.” Gee, I wonder. Is he not for those, too?

But I suppose he has already set out a wide agenda for himself. And if he can accomplish just the items he listed, he’ll indeed have accomplished quite a lot.

“All this,” he tells us, “we can do. And all this we will do.” But who is "we"? Who will "raise health care's quality and lower its cost" or "transform our schools and colleges and universities"? President Obama never says — at least not explicitly. But a careful reading of his remarks suggests that "we" refers to the collective action of government with all of us forced to pay for his big-governmenet agenda.

Every word in the speech was designed, crafted, and enunciated (and likely focus-group tested) for listeners to hear exactly what he or she wanted to hear, rather than what the new president really intends to do.

Obama also took time during his speech to praise the soldiers in uniform, mothers and fathers, farmers, laborers, and good Samaritans. I’m not sure if he left a single American out of the round of praise. All that was missing was the disingenuous “Go ahead, give yourself a round of applause!”

All that praise is calculated to increase polling numbers and get you clapping on your way to the poor house at tax time. Or perhaps it will be before tax time, if he can get the Federal Reserve to inflate the dollar fast enough to take the money from you through inflation.

But we know the new president stands for concrete plans if we consult the totally made-over WhiteHouse.gov website. The new WhiteHouse.gov website contains an enormous photo of the new leader, and also, just in case that was too subtle for you, a big and bold banner announcing, “Change has come to America.” The new White House website also contains an exact copy of the platform from his old campaign website.

There, you can find some substance behind the glittering generalities. And most of that substance is not good for freedom in America.

Photo: AP Images

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