Much has been said about President Obama through his recent years of perpetual Presidential campaign. One thing that cannot be denied is his speaking ability. The highlight of the man’s accomplishments is not his skill in battle, an accomplishment in diplomacy, economic brilliance, or leadership in times of crisis. No, his greatest ability is to give a speech, and so it was that the nation and the world tuned in today to see a moment in history-a moment defined by a soundbite. Billions of people watched with baited breath to hear, “I have a dream!’ People who have lost their jobs and are suffering economically waited to be told once again that, “The only thing we have to fear is….fear itself!” Given the days, months, and years of comparing Obama to Lincoln, it was common to expect a 21st century Gettysburg address (as even Keith Olberman baited before Obama took the podium).
Yes, the President’s speech was nice. He delivered it well. After eight years of President Bush, it was a warm bath of smooth teleprompter reading. Still, he fell short.
He fell short in three areas. First, it was not at all a historic speech on the same level as something from Lincoln, King, Kennedy, or FDR, and thus is was not a marker in the history books any more than his skin color or the number next to him on the list of Presidents. Second, he failed to meet his expectations; it was average or slightly above average. Third-and most importantly, his speech was just words; it did not incite.
President Obama’s speech was about the character of the American people when united. He presented a list of challenges, goals, and repeatedly pushed for unity, bi-partisanship, and an end to the divisive politics of old.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
Obama’s speech was an utter failure because it was moot. No one was moved by his calls to end partisan attacks and come together as a country; to unite and solve rather than divide for division’s sake. Instead, before and after Obama spoke his first words as President, his strongest advocates and supporters ignored him. They brought their signs calling for the arrest and impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. They boo’ed and hissed.
They sang ‘Na-na na na, na-na na na, Goodbye!” and did so with the opposite of best wishes. No, that crowd embraced partisanship, showed no class, mocked and dismissed the support that millions of Americans still have for President Bush, and they did not support their new President. They didn’t oppose him…just ignored him
In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
How ironic that these words from President Obama were not inspiring enough unite, to end partisan hate, and to bring about unity in support of his policies-many of which are policies started by President Bush. Yes, the crowd applauded, and they even cheered Obama’s words, but the irony is just how close those words were to ones spoken by the man they hate.
We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail.
President Washington, Bush, Obama…all talk about unity, and the great things that Americans can accomplish when we hold each other up and face threats together. All talk about getting tired, and faltering, and the risks of failure. All three make those comments at moments of incredible popularity. Yet, while Washington’s words clearly led to success in battle and war, and while Bush’s words at least led to support and conviction at the time….only the allegedly inspiring President Obama could present the same old American challenge, and fail to inspire the crowd to follow his lead.
We must HOPE he can CHANGE his partisan supporters lest they boo the nation to oblivion.