Friday, January 23, 2009

Basking in the Afterglow

As the days pass, I still thrill a little every time I hear the phrase "President Obama" on the news. Don't you?
It's really like being a newlywed, and just like a bride, I keep letting my mind wander back to the Big Day. That speech! It's as if someone asked me what I thought my country should be, how it should change, and then took my answers and translated them into eloquent-speak. No wonder the poet who followed him didn't get much appreciation -- the Inaugural Address was poetry and truth and the promise of welcome action all in one.
Even if you listened to the speech, I urge you to go back and read it. I've wondered a lot this week whether President Obama can possibly live up to what is expected of him. But rereading the speech, I'm reminded that we need to be thinking about living up to what is expected of us.

My favorite parts (OK, this is most of the speech):

1) "... grateful for the trust you have bestowed..."
This is probably a common opening line, and yet in the past few days I have been thinking a lot about trust. I have never before trusted someone in high political office. Am I doing the right thing by trusting this time? People have told me I am not, but part of the hope I am feeling right now is the hope that power does not always corrupt, that you do not have to be flexible with the truth to attain the highest office of the land. We'll see how it goes. I feel like that Billy Joel song, "The Longest Time": "I have been a fool for lesser things."

2) "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."
Thank you for acknowledging reality. Just minutes into the presidency, and we've already gained ground over the yahoo we just left behind.

3) "We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history;"

4) The whole "For us..." passage. This is where I started to tear up. Especially love the reference to slaves who "endured the lash of the whip."

5) "We will restore science to its rightful place"

6) "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works;"
Destined to be a question on history tests to come.

7) "(A) nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous."

8) "(W)e reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals"
Ditto again. I immediately thought of civil liberties, but others first thought of torture. And look at that -- just days later, the use of torture ended, order signed to close Guantanamo.

9) "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers."
When has a president acknowledged that nonreligious families like mine exist? Never. Thank you.

10) "(W)e can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect"

And by the way, I just heard soul singer Bettye LaVette on Fresh Air today. Apparently she sang "A Change Is Gonna Come" at the inauguration, which I missed. But you can see her here, unfortunately accompanied by Jon Bon Jovi. Holy crap! What a voice! I have never owned a soul album before, but I'm buying her latest, Scene of the Crime.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I was just excited that we have a president that can put together and articulate a coherent thought...

But seriously, I, like you, hung on his every word and was so, so glad when he made good on one of his promises just days after taking office and started the process of closing Gitmo. Hooray for doing what's right for once.