Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We will extend a hand if you will unclench your fist

OK, I managed not to cry during Obama's inauguration address (pdf) - helped by the fact that as a male it's simply genetically impossible for me to cry unless my football team loses. Apparently.

Anyway, he's been signed in (video) and that's all that counts for now. Nice new Whitehouse website by the way.

The speech got off to a shaky start, what with thanking Mr Bush and everything but seeing as the rest of the speech contained so many coded attacks on his predecessor I'll let that slide.

I recommend reading the whole thing at the link above - but here's my highlights. I wanted to do a bit of a commentary on each part but I'm off to celebrate so don't have time. A jar of homemade chutney to the first person to guess where I almost cried. Remember this is the President of the United States saying these things - compare and contrast to Bush.

"I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition." [JJ - tut]

"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. 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." [JJ - the ways we get our energy threaten our planet? He... means... oil... woop!]

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. 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." [JJ - just as well he thanked Bush earlier then :)]

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom." [ JJ - that's right, he's not going to do it for you - in your face playstation generation!]

"We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." [JJ - it's the market that's fucked, not us. Just saying is all.]

"We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do." [JJ - US President plus renewable technologies = woop woop!]

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply." [JJ - that's right. The age of pessimism has to die. The age where it's always someone else's fault will kill us if we don't kill it.]

"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 favors 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." [JJ - The market can't run riot. Are we sure this guy is President?]

"As for our common defense, 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 so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more." [JJ - you hear this Bush? Civil liberties are part of making a better world, not a barrier to it.]

"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." [JJ - there are no military solutions, I'm going to do things a different way. Thanks Bush.]

"With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. 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." [JJ - was anyone expecting him to talk about nuclear disarmament? Cool. And he's banging on about climate change again - he wont shut up about it!]

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter... as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect." [JJ - hold on, did he just say that America has like, atheists and Muslims in it? The fact he choose not to define America as a Christian nation but a nation of many faiths and none, that, my friends is a bit a progress that might go unnoticed.]

"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. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it." [JJ - bloody wonderful. The door just opened to a sane foreign policy - let's hope we all step through.]

"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]." [JJ - revolution! woot! Let's all work really hard because times are really shitty - crowd roars in approval.]

"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." [JJ - it's up to us all, and future generations are depending on us.]

Pics: top - Obama takes out the White House trash, below - wordle word cloud of Obama's speech (click to enlarge).


matt said...

Hi Jim, so good to see you stoked about it, you nearly made me cry again with your enthusiasm!

Check out my rather more verbose anyalsis at
http://www.greenwordsworkshop.org/node/8 and please contribute Jim, and all to the Green Words Workshop project!

By the way, I predict you first welled-up at... um... But know this, America - they will be met.

Unless you have bit more staying power, in which case I predict
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

I dunno. Lots of bits got me.. ;-)
Funny how we analyse the policy but the bits that are really moving are the emotions and the values.. (take note Green Party orators..!! And check out the links on the Green Words Workshop)

Matt Wootton
p.s. what about on "our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."?

Jack Ray said...

that new website is creepy, like a new president is equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday ... "now on fox: change HAS COME!"

Jim Jay said...

Jack - the main reason I raised the new site was simply that it was one more manifestation that Bush has left the building.

Matt - I don't think I've seen your site before (I think you used to have a different one) nice work. Also, unrelated point, nice videos you've been making recently too.

I'm not sure I can award you the chutney as you did have a number of guesses! It was the final one (quite late in the speech) you mention. I would have blubbed earlier had I not been at work in a room full of my workmates drinking port to celebrate - it did make it a very special moment though.