Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Dawning of the Age of Obama

He campaigned as the idealist promising change we can believe in and now Barack Obama is officially able to deliver that change.

The Inauguration Ceremony was lovely, although somebody had better check that he actually is legal given that neither he nor the Chief Justice seemed to manage to get the words of the oath out in the correct order - it should have been faithfully execute, not execute the office of President of the United States faithfully.

The Obama girls looked gorgeous - Malia (10) in royal blue, Sasha (7) in poppy red. Well done to whoever decided not to dress them the same.

I'm not sure about the colour of Michelle Obama's gold creation, but the design of the dress and coat was lovely and she is so serenely beautiful that it wouldn't really matter what she wore.

Hillary Clinton looked relaxed and smiling behind Michelle Obama. I did feel for her and could only imagine what was going through her mind. She seems to have accepted her fate and embraced her new mission with good grace, though. Bill looked healthier than he has for a while, which is a good sign.

Everything ran late, but nobody really seemed bothered. The million people who lined the streets of Washington didn't seem to care.

There was the somewhat sad sight of Dick Cheney being wheeled to the event in a wheelchair after pulling a muscle in his back carrying boxes.

I know that today was all in the spirit of tolerance and divesity and all that but I did have to have one act of rebellion. I did make a point of ignoring the Conservative Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren as he gave the invocation prayer. He holds views on same sex marriage and abortion that I am very uncomfortable with and I wouldn't have chosen him for such a big occasion, but that's water under the bridge.

Aretha Franklin's performance gave me goosebumps. She's done inaugurations before, but this was special. And already it's on You Tube:

Obama's speech still had the idealism and the confidence that we have come to expect from him, but this was tempered with sobering realism and a call to all Americans to give of their best to deal with the unprecedented challenges ahead.

You could actually see George W Bush squirming as his legacy was laid bare in a few well chosen, but very frank words. "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet"

There were two phrases that I thought were the signs of the new age. "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." So it's goodbye Guantanamo. The poisonous vernacular of the war on terror is replaced with "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Well, I loved it.

And if this is true, then bring it on: "To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect." I hope Israel was listening and will be made to think about the way it consumes the resources of the middle east. It would be good if clean waters flowed in Gaza.

Another theme of the speech was personal responsibility, and embracing your duties as a citizen to help the nation succeed. "For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate."

The two things I really loved most of all about the speech was the inclusion of non-believers in the list of value systems at one point and the addition of curiosity as one of the "values on which our success depends." I like the willingness to abandon conventions as novel solutions are sought for challenges.

The language was so different from the defiant, destructive stuff we've heard from Bush and Cheney over the years.

It's only day 1, but he's made a good start.

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1 comment:

café paris said...

Big day for america, I hope Obama will change the world !


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