Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Good luck, President Obama

It is sheer, unbridled churlishness for those on our side of politics to not wish President Obama well over the next four years.

We leave churlishness like that to those on the other side of the aisle.

I love the whole inauguration shtick and today's inauguration was a huge event from start to finish.

Given the tension that could develop between the Supreme Court and the executive branch the fact that John Roberts mangled the oath of office while Barack Obama tried to give him a chance to get it right could be a poor omen.

To the speech and while the usual suspects were mesmerised by the President's eloquence they completely missed the fact that it was just adequate; not great and not bad.

I thought that the overall tone was a bit down. I would have focused on the magnificence of a country that could elect a black man to its highest office given its history of slavery and racism.

The highlight of Obama's speech was this:
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 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.
That really was great. I mentioned the other day that I thought Obama's foreign policy wouldn't look too much different to George W Bush's and I reckon I'll be right. Obama will try to pick a signature issue to solve, as all presidents do, but the foreign policy part of his speech could have come straight from any Republican since World War II.

There were a few quite low points including:
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
A 'working' government is meant to help find people jobs as a 'decent' wage? Really? 'Provide care they can afford...' sounds like socialised medicine to me and a 'retirement that is dignified' sends a signal to young taxpayers that they're going to be paying for retirees for decades to come. If all that doesn't keep the economy in depression then nothing will.

He then talked about markets:
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
Unfortunately, nobody understands that the market spinning out of control was caused 100% by the government and Fed; one with its ridiculous requirement to give people loans they couldn't afford and the other by keeping interest rates below their market clearing rate, which created a bubble that had to burst. There's more to come, too.

This bit here got me:
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
Firstly, I wonder whether Obama's administration will face down the fascism of the Environmental movement? Seems unlikely, doesn't it?

But 'our security emanates from the justness of our cause'?!?!

What the hell is he talking about?

If security emanated from the justness of a cause then Mao, Stalin and Hitler would not have been able to murder tens of millions of innocent people...

...and Amnesty International would not exist.

He then finishes well and I've just noticed something interesting from the transcript of his speech on Australia's ABC site (with an AFP tag):

I wonder whether Obama's final line
"God bless you and God bless the United States of America."
was deliberately left out or was not included in transcripts provided to the press. I've seen a few transcripts and they all lack this final line. Seems odd given that's what he said.

So, overall an adequate speech but lacking the soaring rhetoric we've become used to.

He now has to deal with the reality of a rough world, the evil of terrorism, the threat of nuclear Iran (or Syria) not to mention an economy that's heading into depression.

Best of luck to him in his efforts to get things back on track.

(Nothing Follows)


kae said...

And good luck to the US.

Anonymous said...

Congratulation, finally you have the elected president....:)

Darren said...

I hope he doesn't screw it all up.

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