Jan 22, 2009

Doing the right thing

It's hard to say exactly how I feel about the inauguration. Relief, mainly. The address was sombre, even severe, with very few of the rhetorical flourishes that we've come to expect of Obama. I loved "the time has come to set aside childish things". I was surprised by the boldness of this:
We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
And then, just as you were wondering if he'd noticed who was sitting right behind him, this:
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
That's when I felt most cheered. How much time I've spent over the past 8 years trying to disentangle genuine anger at what was done on 9/11 from Bush's disastrous response to it. With a single stroke, Obama sliced them apart and freed us up again. And then this:
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true.
My favorite line, possibly, in a speech that didn't seem to be angling for Bartlett's. Instead it was sturdy as an Ox leaning into its halter. The day after he issued a series of executive orders closing Guantanamo, suspending military commissions, compelling CIA interrogators to adhere to the Army Field Manual, banning CIA "black sites", and restricting his own power and the power of former Presidents to withhold documents on the basis of secrecy. Heaven.


  1. just curious -- what happened to the original post of your reaction to the inauguration? why did you change it?

  2. I was initially a little disappointed by the speech but when I went back to it a second time, I liked it more.