Inauguration 2009: a speech and a laughJan 24, 2009
Last night I watched Obama's Presidential inauguration speech. It was pretty much perfect.
Perfect for the occasion, I mean. Like any good skeptic, I tire of political crowd-pleasing speeches full of rousing, overly optimistic, and ultimately meaningless generalizations. I'm more interested in the debates where actual ideas and policies are discussed. And I'd really like to see a town hall format where the questions candidates are asked are NOT the usual issues. Remove that element of utter predictability, then maybe we'll really see how they think on their feet, and not get some well-practiced responses full of critical jabs and memorized statistics.
But I digress.
As I was saying, the speech was right for the day. It sounded very good, surely inspiring pride and hope in a great many viewers. I definitely wouldn't accuse our new leader of losing a crowd when he gets on the mic. But the impression I was left with was just a general "Don't forget how great our country once was... it's been rough lately, but we can be great again." Don't get me wrong, I like Obama so far and think he did an excellent job with the speech. It's just that talk of change and a new improved nation is not new; we've been hyped up by speeches only to be let down again and again... at this point, I'll believe it when I see it.
But there was one line that stood out to me, giving me pause to consider this new administration's potential. Obama said something to the effect of, "We should focus not on whether government is too big or too small, but on whether it works." Granted, it's still a very general statement, but the idea struck me as a uniquely enlightened view amidst this stubbornly combative, seemingly endless two-party struggle. If he can stick to that philosophy, and inspire others to follow him, maybe all this talk of change is for real.
I hope so.
The second bit I found most notable occurred when the new President Obama was seeing off our new ex-President, George W. Bush. They walked from the ceremony together with their wives. Shortly before departing, Bush leaned over to say something to Obama. There was no audio feed, so I don't know what the comment was or how the response sounded. But it looked like Obama was laughing heartily, with a genuine smile.
I'd like to think Bush had a funny thought, shared it as one would with any friend, and the two parted ways in good spirits. A LOT of people disagree with Bush's political beliefs, decisions in office, and even his having been elected legitimately. But, all that aside, what if he's a great guy in person, and just a real pleasure to be around? Politics, and particularly radio and TV talk shows, have people forgetting that someone who disagrees with you isn't necessarily a terrible person. (NOTE: They still might be though.)
This reminded me of the debates we had in high school government class. People had strong opinions and sometimes the discussions got pretty heated. But once class was over, and we stepped out of the mock political arena, we could all go back to being buddies. Or at least the popular kids could. Others went back to their notebooks full of Street Fighter sketches. =P
I guess what I'm saying is: While so many minds get closed off and people throw insults, hold grudges and even make enemies, it'd be nice to know at least those who are running our country are keeping things in their place, and at the end of the day can joke around like friends.