January 20, 2009
From transition to clean break
Posted by: Chris
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin sounded a sour note a few hours ago on Barack Obama's inaugural address, criticizing it for lacking a coherent theme or any memorable phrase or idea. I would actually agree.
The speech surprised by being less memorable or powerful than his race speech,
his acceptance speech in Denver or on election night in Chicago -- not
to mention his 2004 keynote at the Democratic convention. Though with four warm-ups like that and all the world attention, it was probably impossible for Obama to live up to expectations today.
If a central goal of his presidency -- and the inauguration -- is to u nify the country, the speech itself probably hit a sour note. I can only imagine how President Bush and Republicans reacted to hearing about "a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable." We usually hear these sorts of broadsides from Republicans after Democratic control in Washington. Can't you imagine Ronald Reagan saying the same thing after four years of Jimmy Carner?
Not to mention how John McCain and his supporters probably felt about Obama proclaiming, "We have chosen hope over fear, unity
of purpose over conflict and discord," or "or that in national defense, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."
I agree on each and every point, but that's not my point. I wonder whether
such direct attacks on Bush and the GOP, especially on such a day, will undermine
the goodwill Obama has built and set the country on a more divisive course.
On the other hand, polls show Americans overwhelmingly agree that
the Bush presidency was a failure and the nation is headed in the wrong
direction. Even arch-conservative Bill Bennett called the speech "muscular,"
and though he was talking about its few chest-thumping passage, he is
right. Obama set a clear new course for the country.
Forget talk of a transition, this was a clean break. This was change. That's what the people want, after all.
(Photo via Washington Post)
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