Obama’s second inaugural (updated)

There were, I think, three main elements to President Obama’s second inaugural address (other than its brevity at just 19 minutes, which was the only truly surprising thing about the speech):

First, there was his identification of what — or who — is at the root of our problems:

  • “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few …”
  • “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
  • “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.”

In case you didn’t catch his drift, I’ve supplied some emphasis. There are just a “few” people who are keeping the rest of us from … what exactly? Does anyone actually believe only a “few” Americans (even granting the president poetic license to mean a “few” as a relative share of a nation of more than 315 million people) are happy? Or enjoy freedom? Or experience financial success?

To understand his exaggeration of the cause of our problems requires the second element of the speech, which is the gross mischaracterization of the positions of the president’s political opponents. Here are two examples:

  • “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.”
  • “… we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

Who, exactly, claims that a “single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need,” or that a “single person can … build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores”? Who has claimed that such a solitary trainer of teachers or builder of roads exists?

And who, exactly, believes our nation “must choose between” programs for retirees and, say, education? The GOP presidential nominee who wanted to restore the Medicare spending cut to fund (on paper) Obamacare? The Republican leaders whose proposals for Social Security involve slowing the growth of benefits?

Who are these unreasonable people who hold these radical beliefs?

Figments of Obama’s imagination — that’s who. This is the kind of willful misrepresentation of opposing viewpoints that is the stock-in-trade of Obama’s rhetoric.

Hand-in-hand with this misrepresentation is the projection onto others of the kind of behavior Obama himself regularly displays: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle” — kind of like saying you won’t extend tax cuts for everyone else unless taxes go up on the “few” — “… or treat name-calling as reasoned debate” — kind of like calling the other side “hostage takers.”

Finally, there were the policy prescriptions to which Obama alluded. This was the element of the speech that made it sound akin to a State of the Union address. There were allusions to, though no detailed proposals for, reforming government, the tax code and schools; addressing climate change via sustainable energy sources; support for gay marriage; attempting comprehensive immigration reform; pursuing the kind of gun control measures he proposed just last week; and, most of the blue, shortening the time it takes to vote on Election Day.

Take these elements together, and it was a speech being received (with some degree of shock) by liberals as a thoroughly liberal speech. And (with far less shock) by conservatives as the same.

Why it took liberals aback, I don’t know. The notion of Obama the Centrist has appealed only to those who believe he really should govern as a socialist. But it does not portend any more of a spirit of cooperation during the next two years than we’ve seen during the past four.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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278 comments Add your comment

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
11:47 am

Is there any reason we should believe that the next four years will be any better than the last four?? Though we can hope that natural business cycles will help to restore the economy, my guess is that ObamaCare will have a dampening effect as health care costs go through the roof.

Kyle Wingfield

January 21st, 2013
11:53 am

And…the speech is under way.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:00 pm

Pretty ironic hearing Obama’s calls for “togetherness” after he just spent the last four years dividing people on the basis of race, class and political affiliation.

Kyle Wingfield

January 21st, 2013
12:01 pm

Didn’t take Obama long to get to the idea that it’s all the fault of the rich.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:03 pm

So much for “togetherness”, it’s once again about Villains and Victims.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:06 pm

Nice platitude about lasting peace not being the result of constant war. Too bad our enemies don’t see it the same way.

Does anyone think the Drone Pres will be in line for another Nobel Peace Prize??

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 21st, 2013
12:07 pm

The most divisive, angry, petulant putz ever to hold the office.

Richard Coleman

January 21st, 2013
12:08 pm

Well work with him and stop seeing the color of the man

Just Saying..

January 21st, 2013
12:10 pm

Wonderful to see you regulars celebrating your moment of reward.
In your usual way…

Kyle Wingfield

January 21st, 2013
12:12 pm

And…it’s over. Just 19 minutes long? Surprising.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 21st, 2013
12:13 pm

What color are Obozo’s trillion-dollar deficits, Richard?

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:13 pm

That was it??

Almost came across as a campaign speech to me. Long on rah-rah, short on anything specific that will get us out of the financial mess we’re in. At least he didn’t beat the “look at the mess we inherited” drum for a change.

Kyle Wingfield

January 21st, 2013
12:15 pm

Here’s a transcript for everyone who, like me, wants to go back and review what the president said.

getalife

January 21st, 2013
12:21 pm

Great speech.

Lets hope for no scandals, no endless hearing by the vast rw conspiracy, no new occupations and no economic collapses like his first term.

It does not get any better than that.

God bless the Obama’s.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:22 pm

What color are Obozo’s trillion-dollar deficits, Richard?

I wonder if the Libs will ever notice that 95% of race-based comments come from their side.

Kyle Wingfield

January 21st, 2013
12:23 pm

Good grief, this poem is going to take longer than the speech.

Bobby

January 21st, 2013
12:28 pm

Well, Kyle. With rightwingers and bigots like yourself around there wasn’t much for President Obama to say except to try and bring those of us who care about the USA and actually served in the military forces together.

You would be better suited to join Neal in retirement.

getalife

January 21st, 2013
12:31 pm

It is going to be a long four years for you cons.

Perhaps you should look at some of the great things for our country instead of just focusing on the bad things for your failed party.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:38 pm

Perhaps you should look at some of the great things for our country

Help me out, get. Last I checked the economy still sucked, gas prices are still high, we’re still in Afghanistan, Gitmo is still open, the Patriot Act was expanded and there is no way we’re paying down our debt in our lifetime. Fill me on in some of the great things that have happened since the Big O took office.

I’m old, and won’t be in the workforce for too many more years, but I feel badly for our young folks. Massive debt and crappy employment outlook will be our legacy.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 21st, 2013
12:42 pm

Well looks like reality still missing over here and the absurdity of claims and whines continue. Most will never see or admit the great tone of his speech and leadership of our President to do the right things even against a group that 4 years ago set their minds to stop him on every front.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:47 pm

Most will never see or admit the great tone of his speech and leadership of our President to do the right things

Put your Messiah Complex aside for a minute and explain all of the great things that Obama has accomplished.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 21st, 2013
12:51 pm

And just think, it only took a half century to get from the Greatest Generation to the Sorriest one.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 21st, 2013
12:53 pm

“messiah complex” — what a foolish claim. Sorry you are so uninformed about Obama’s accomplishments. I would have thought you had the ability to use more of the internet to comprehend reality. You’ve been told any number of times but refuse to comprehend. Good luck with that.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 21st, 2013
12:54 pm

Protesters smashed windows at two banks and a Hooters restaurant early Monday near Chinatown in Northwest Washington, marking the first violent civil disturbances reported amid inauguration events, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

I know why the obozombies attacked the banks by why would anyone hate on a Hooter’s. You libs really are weird.

MarkV

January 21st, 2013
12:55 pm

We can feel lucky that we have an highly intelligent, competent president. His speech was about equality. Kyle accusation that it “Didn’t take Obama long to get to the idea that it’s all the fault of the rich” is a disgusting lie.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:55 pm

And just think, it only took a half century to get from the Greatest Generation to the Sorriest one.

Aesop–But don’t forget, they’re all properly indoctrinated to keep the Dems in power for decades to come. This generation doesn’t go for that self-reliance crap, that’s for suckers.

getalife

January 21st, 2013
12:56 pm

Keep,

The only ones using the term “messiah” are the cons.

Lets stop that silliness cons.

He is President.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
12:58 pm

I would have thought you had the ability to use more of the internet to comprehend reality. You’ve been told any number of times but refuse to comprehend.

So far the Libs are 0-2 in listing Obama’s great accomplishments. You would think it would be easier given how numerous they are.

Where’s Adam with one of his cut-n-paste jobs??

Just Saying..

January 21st, 2013
1:00 pm

“…all of the great things that Obama has accomplished.”

Well, he’ll never be a “WONE TUM PRESUDENT”…

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 21st, 2013
1:00 pm

getalife, it appears that if you don’t suffer ODS, you must have “messiah complex”. A way to avoid intelligent commentary and to make it “us v them”. Shameful

Stephenson Billings

January 21st, 2013
1:02 pm

“The only ones using the term “messiah” are the cons.”

Says someone who I guess didn’t see the new Newsweek cover…. ijs….

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 21st, 2013
1:03 pm

Well if you are begging for “one of Adam’s cut and paste jobs” you have proven my point. You have seen the list of many accomplishments before, you just cannot comprehend. We can only take you so far. To take the next step often requires engaging your brain and rejecting the rants and the ODS. Again, good luck with that.

getalife

January 21st, 2013
1:03 pm

Keep,

Shameful is what our cons are all about.

The first President to call on gay rights in a inauguration.

This President is all about making history.

Cutty

January 21st, 2013
1:05 pm

Kyle is such a hater… He won, your guy lost. Get over it.

MarkV

January 21st, 2013
1:05 pm

Let’s make one thing very clear to Kyle and his sycophants. Barrack Obama was elected twice, the first Democrat since FDR to receive twice the majority of votes. The Democrats received the majority of votes in the congressional elections. The President was elected after two campaigns, in which he presented to the people of this country his vision, and the majority has approved it twice by their votes.

td

January 21st, 2013
1:06 pm

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 21st, 2013
12:53 pm

“messiah complex” — what a foolish claim. Sorry you are so uninformed about Obama’s accomplishments”

And what would those accomplishments be?

Gas prices: $1:83 when he came into office and now it is $3.26. Fail
Food Prices: We are paying more now then 4 years ago. Fail
Debt: $10 Trillion 4 years ago and now $16.5 trillion. Fail
Spending cuts: Over $1 trillion per year in deficit spending. Fail
Employment: Unemployment rate exactly the same as 4 years ago: Fail
Health care cost: 30 to 50% higher premiums now as to 4 years ago after the passage of Obamacare: Fail

Looks successful to me. NOT

JamVet

January 21st, 2013
1:07 pm

BHO truly is the new GWB.

Elected twice because their competition was so farcical.

Better luck in 2024, cons…

getalife

January 21st, 2013
1:08 pm

td,

You lost.

Time to get over it.

Your lies failed but you did manage to cheat to win the house according to Morning Joe.

Congrats liar and cheater.

Stephenson Billings

January 21st, 2013
1:08 pm

td @ 1:06:

But he closed Gitmo and got us out of Afganistan…. oh, wait…..

Mike

January 21st, 2013
1:09 pm

Hey Bruno…notice how they can’t answer your question?
It’s all rah rah with these guys. No real substance just lots of bling. And they trip over themselves to defend a man, who if he was a republican, they would be criticizing his every move.

I don’t hate President Obama. Although, I think he has diminished the importance of the office with some his actions. His followers are so desperate to defend him, they can’t see that he is all talk and no substance. But again, simple minds are attracted to the shiny objects.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

January 21st, 2013
1:09 pm

Gas prices? How absurd. The President does not set gas prices. And have you looked at the 11 year trend. http://www.atlantagasprices.com/Retail_Price_Chart.aspx I would be ashamed to have make a silly claim in a post like that.

Stephenson Billings

January 21st, 2013
1:11 pm

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
1:11 pm

Looks successful to me. NOT

td–According to the Libs here, Obama’s accomplishments are so self-evident that to even ask to hear about some of them constitutes lack of “intelligent commentary”. I’m waiting for one of them to trot out ObamaCare, his signature initiative, as an “accomplishment”.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 21st, 2013
1:11 pm

I help the libs out. One of obozo’s “accomplishments,” coming in Year Zero of his first term, was the Lily Ledbetter Act. Uh, Houston, I believe we have a problem -

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

Looks like “Lily” crashed and burned. Another total failure of obozo policy.

getalife

January 21st, 2013
1:12 pm

mike,

You have ODS but in denial.

Lets face it, you cons are being marginalized as kooks.

Keep up the great work cons.

Road Scholar

January 21st, 2013
1:12 pm

One great accomplishment:

He pi$$ed you cons off raising your blood pressure and showing the world your inability to problem solve andenhanced whining ability! You show no respect, whether for the man or office.

Just Saying..

January 21st, 2013
1:13 pm

Such a great day.

For the Mitt Romney wing of the Republican Party…

Road Scholar

January 21st, 2013
1:13 pm

One great accomplishment:

He pi$$ed you cons off raising your blood pressure and showing the world your inability to problem solve and enhanced whining ability! You show no respect, whether for the man or office.

td

January 21st, 2013
1:13 pm

MarkV

January 21st, 2013
1:05 pm
” The Democrats received the majority of votes in the congressional elections. The President was elected after two campaigns, in which he presented to the people of this country his vision, and the majority has approved it twice by their votes.”

Of coarse they did because Dems received the most votes. This means that Dems had better turnout in their Congressional district then Republicans had in their districts. Obama’s approval rating is the third lowest since WW2, only Ford and Carter has a lower approval rating. Yes, GWB was thought to have done a better job then Obama during his first term. Obama won because (and I will give Dems credit for this one) had a great ground game. They used motor voter to its fullest extent possible by data mining of their voters and then browbeating them to actually vote and making sure they got them to the polls with rides or whatever it took.

Bruno

January 21st, 2013
1:15 pm

Barrack Obama was elected twice, the first Democrat since FDR to receive twice the majority of votes.

Very apt comparison, MarkV, given the fact that both are responsible for extending the poor economic times they inherited via ineffective government intervention which did little other than rack up crushing debt.