History Begins Again: Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States

-

3211485263_70928e0185.jpg
Hail to the Chief is being played for the last time for Bush as the incumbent President of the United States. That song will be Barack Obama’s alone for the next four years.
The National Mall is the most full it has ever been for an event like this — and it’s 25 degrees outside. People are so excited. I was out til 3 am last night, enjoying the Huffington Post party until things shut down at 2 — and everyone was on a high.
I spoke with Queen Noor last evening at the Arab American Inaugural Gala — and was pleased she asked people to think of those lost and still suffering in Gaza. She was sensible and bold to remind people of the disaster there and to remind people that this enthusiasm for good had to be directed at solving problems around teh world.
Joe Biden is now walking out. What a journey it has been for him. I’m a huge fan of Joe — and think that he is going to be a steadying and informed balancer in the White House.
And soon Obama himself will be walking out…..this is history. And now he is.
Wow.
I was speaking with Gregory Craig, close friend and confidante of Barack Obama and the new White House Counsel, and he said, “Steve, I know I’m going to lose it up there.”
There are going to be a lot of tears of joy, of love of this man, and of relief that finally America has someone who looks like America in its fullest form.
Rick Warren is up next. I was feeling so good. Let’s see what he does for me now — very little applause for him.
Glad Warren is over — very evangelical Christian. Zero outreach. Glad we can move on.
And now Aretha….always amazing. Let Freedom Ring. . .or as Wynton Marsalis and Sandra Day O’Connor said last night at the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored Kennedy Center MLK tribute, “Let Freedom Swing. . .!”
Joe Biden — the oath. . .and now VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!
I love Yo-Yo Ma, and his son Nicholas Ma, now working at McKinsey, is soon going to be playing some great role in America’s diplomatic machine. He used to work at the United Nations, and I’m encouraging State Department officials to recruit Nicholas.
Wow….Obama is now President of the United States, even without the swearing in as it is just past noon.
“I, Barack Hussein Obama. . .solemnly swear. . .”
Amazing. It’s done!
Now, we desperately need to get to work on real world problems. . .but I have to admit that I’m really happy that Obama is President today.
Let’s hear what he says in his speech. . .
Humbled by the challenges ahead. Thanks Bush for his service (and much more applause for Bush than Rick Warren. . .)
He’s calling for national resolve, a fall back on America’s first principles, sacrifice, standing together. Reminding people of America’s hard, and often harsh history, the battles for ideals.
Here is the entire speech that a friend just sent me:

Full prepared text of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
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.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.
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.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
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.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. 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.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. 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.
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. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
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.
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.
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.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. 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.
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 stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that 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. 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.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
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. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. 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.

The most important thing Obama’s speech says is this:

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.

This is worth a lot. No false choices between our ideals and our security. That needs to be said over and over again. Obama is on target here.
The speech is humble, and more a warning of tough times on their way, than it is inspiring to take America to new levels. This is a speech that is like Obama, essentially conservative and cautious, serious. And he’s calling the country to stand together to deal with the really hard times ahead. I like it — and think that this cautious Obama is someone who does want to change things, not just pretend to.
His shout out to the Muslim world will be appreciated — and is appreciated by me. This outreached hand to Muslims has been missing from the Obama operation. So another good check mark for Obama.
Behind the scenes, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are misbehaving and engaged in escalatory snubbing. Their conduct is unbecoming — when Obama is trying to call everyone to push the reset button, to work together again on tomorrow’s problems, two of our former Presidents are acting like school children.
Obama really hit a homer by reminding people that someone is now standing before them, taking “the oath”, when just a few decades ago he wouldn’t have been able to be served in many of the nation’s restaurants.
Powerful ending stanza:

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.

I was moved by the speech. . .and most of all am thrilled that. . .
BARACK OBAMA IS THE 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Note to Barack Obama’s speechwriters and fact checkers. Obama said:

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

Wrong. Forty-three men, not forty-four, have taken the oath of office as President. Grover Cleveland did it twice as the 22nd and 24th President of the U.S.
The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery is giving the closing prayer — and Rick Warren could learn some things from him. Amazing and moving message.
Lowery is the person we should have heard from when this ceremony marking the nation’s most important hand off of power began.
And now, George W. Bush and family are about to fly off into the rest of their lives without the power of the presidency to wield tomorrow.
Both President Obama and Vice President Biden showed their commitment to reach across the aisle and country by escorting Laura and George W. Bush to his helicopter.
All quite beautifully, respectfully scripted.
Sent my note about the error in Obama’s speech on the number of men who have sworn the presidential oath to CNN’s top political producer and received this note back:

Wow, Steve. You’re really a stickler…
But yes – you are correct.

I hope Jeffrey Toobin, Wolf Blitzer, Paul Begala or Anderson Cooper use it — sent it to all of them.
More soon — I have to go do some media commentary and will be watching the Inaugural Parade from the Embassy of Canada on Pennsylvania Avenue as the guest of Ambassdor and Mrs. Michael Wilson.
All best to everyone for a new day and new start in America. As Obama said, the times ahead will be tough — but we get to push “reset” today.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

39 comments on “History Begins Again: Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States

  1. TonyForesta says:

    I am well aware of the IAEA reports Don Bacon and read whatever is released religiously. You may not be aware that Iran nuclear programs, though technically not provable as a weaponized variety, (and the IAEA is denied access to certain Iranian facilities) is very capable of altering to a weaponization industrial complex if all the right elements collasce. Just like advanced chemical and pharmaceutical industrial complexes of any nation can quickly be altered into chemical or biological weapons industrial complexes altering certain process or by mixing various the seed cultures, – so can nuclear programs anywhere be easily modified to weapons manufacturing given access to technologies, processes, and certain materials and machinery.
    I’m not saying Iran has nuclear weapons manufacturing capability now, though I do not know. What I am saying is that Iran could develop a weapons program based on its current developments, and further that there is nothing American chickenhawks, or zionists in Israel can do to prevent that development if Iran is compelled to pursue that end. Given the mad and belligerent threats of regime change and axisofevil and zionist paranoia directed at Iran, – it would not surprize me if Iran did pursue nuclear weapons development as a strategic deterent to preemptive attacks, and unilateral regime change efforts.
    As I said earlier, we cannot uninvent nuclear weapons. The technology exists and is readily available. The only prohibitions are the complexity of the science involved, (requiring a highly sophisticated and well educated and well funded scientific community and infrastructure, and access to certain materials and technologies, (specific machines, devises, and technologies, and formulas or recipes’). Once the basic ingrediants are accessed, and if the necessary infrastructe and scientific expertise exists, – a viable nuclear weapons program is easily possible. Iran meets all these requirements.
    So what do we do now?

    Reply

  2. David says:

    Didn’t somebody, I think on MSNBC, say that this was the 44th peaceful transition of power? It is, of course, the 43rd. There was nothing peaceful about the transition from George III to George Washington.
    After the second oath of office, as Don Bacon pointed out, it did become the 44th peaceful transition. This inauguration was truly special in so many ways, some profound, some playful, all wonderful.
    America is starting to make sense again, even though it has the most abominable upper management class imaginable – the higher up, the more abominable.

    Reply

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Tony,
    You are apparently uninformed about the continuous IAEA monitoring in Iran which has found no evidence of noncompliance with NPT requirements, and also the US National Intelligence Estimate that said essentially the same thing.

    Reply

  4. TonyForesta says:

    No one will ever convince me that the wingnut roberts did not intentionally mangle the oath as a shoutout to limbaughtypes and fellow wingnustia madmen lockstep partisan in the bushgov.
    What’s done is done. Obama is President, the oath has been corrected and all the wingnut whining and crying like belligerant ill-kept children will not change that basic fact and truth.
    Speaking of basic fact and truth. Iran is developing a very sophisticated nuclear program. Thanks largely to A Q Khan illicit efforts, which that traitor cheney undermined by outing Valerie Plame and Brewster Jennings, & Associates, but that’s another story.
    The fact and the truth are that Irans nuclear programs could potentially lead to weaponization. Sad but true. The question now arizes as to what to do with these facts and this reality. Chickenhawk warmonger and wanton profiteers who have never been in combat want to rattle their sabers and pretend America has the capability to unilaterally take down Irans nuclear industrial complex. This is a ridiculous pipedream and a laughable fictions as our more knowledgable military leadership will and has made clear.
    There is no uninventing nuclear weapons technology. Iran has a sophisticated nuclear program that could be used for energy, or – easily converted to a weapons program given the rancid proliferation of nuclear weapons technology and expertise.
    America, and the Obama administration must eventually lower the bar against Iran and look to policies that manage and contain a nuclear armed Iran. Iranian leadership, and the Iranian people are not suicidal. The nuclear weapons programs if they exist, or will exist are strategic deterants to prevent hostile states (America Israel for example) from executing unilateral attacks and regime change in, or on Iran.
    Once the threat of some crazy wingnut evangelical crusader, pathological liar, and wanton war profiteer is removed from the calculus, Iran may, like Lybia choose it is in their long term interests to take down their nuclear weapons industrial complex. Until that day, – put your selves in Iran’s situation. What other choice do they have? There is no way to defeat the hypersuperior (at least today) US military and the US proxy in Israel, – so the best option is to develop significant threat deterants to prevent any wild and crazy wingnut, evangelical, or zionist crusader and war profiteer from unilaterally and preemptively attacking Iran and decapitating their leadership.
    Soft power is the only solution. Iran won Iraq, so there is no real incensitive on the Iranian side to push more confrontation with the west or Israel. Whatever reality or facts define Irans nuclear programs, – they are inherantly deterrant and defensive in nature.

    Reply

  5. Don Bacon says:

    I was afraid of this.
    WASHINGTON – After the flub heard around the world, President Barack Obama has taken the oath of office. Again. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath to Obama on Wednesday night at the White House — a rare do-over.
    So like Cleveland, Obama has taken the oath twice, making him the 44th and 45th president.

    Reply

  6. Jeff says:

    This is the first place I’ve seen a comment like Steve’s about Warren’s invocation, which was very much my impression. “Inadequately ecumencal” is how I’d put it. My problem with evangelicals is that they always have an agenda, and that agenda is always Jesus.
    I do hold out some hope about Warren, however; he may fade from the scene (he seemed very uncomfortable yesterday), but his interaction with Melissa Etheridge over Prop 8 would seem to indicate that he’s educable…

    Reply

  7. Mike says:

    I’m agnostic, and my insides churned during Warren’s prayer. I’m glad, though, that Obama selected him for the opening prayer; it’s good to see him reaching out to the community that had the most scorn for him during the campaign. He’s a true leader – smart, humble generous and inspiring. I never thought I’d actually enjoy watching an inaugural ceremony.

    Reply

  8. Don Bacon says:

    DK: “Anyway, we are the government. . .we have failed”
    Sorry, Dan, I don’t buy it. It isn’t the American people that have been bought off by the corporate lobbyists. The American people have been commuting long distances and working long hours, and nevertheless have been forced to finance profligate spending on wars and corporate welfare aided, abetted and voted by the criminals in Washington, elected and otherwise.
    Reminds me of something I copied long ago: “The underlying global commercial and financial rackets that propel the assassinations, coups, subversion, wars, extortion, torture, disinformation, exploitation and thievery that are the stock in trade of all of the worlds great powers – including the US – . . .”–Dan Kervick, undated

    Reply

  9. carsick says:

    WigWag
    I don’t want to get into the back and forth a few seem to enjoy here but… other than the revolution that birthed our country, very few countries have had peaceful transitions every single time for over 200 years. That is worth enjoying…for at least one day.
    I would think you would be aware of that.

    Reply

  10. DonS says:

    Dan, I agree, and agree that those who sacrificed should be honored. But I also wish/hope we can move away from the military model and elevate another paradigm of national pride.
    Thanks for the f/u!

    Reply

  11. WigWag says:

    “Many of your topic commentors seem unable to sit back and enjoy a day where our country like few others, once again, had a peaceful transition of power.”
    Few other countries have peaceful transitions of power? Most other countries have peaceful transitions of power.

    Reply

  12. Dan Kervick says:

    No surprise Emanuel is a New Republic guy. Hopefully Obama’s reading material is more diverse.

    Reply

  13. Dan Kervick says:

    Don S,
    I don’t think Obama was taking sides on any Vietnam controversies. I think the implicit point is just that whether previous wars were good or bad, the people who fought in them sacrificed life and limb for their country, and should be honored equally.

    Reply

  14. Dan Kervick's Wife says:

    The second paragraph in the previous post belongs to Judis and should have been in quotation marks.

    Reply

  15. Dan Kervick says:

    I’m surprised by some of the things Judis is skeptical about, especially this one:
    What is missing is a middle term, and what is implied is that the reason we are in trouble now is because the present generation has acted irresponsibly. Is that really at the heart of America’s difficulties at home or in the world? It has the ring of Biblical prophecy, but not of truth.
    Yes, Mr. Judis, broad-based irresponsibility is indeed at the heart of many of our difficulties. Such has clearly been part of Obama’s message, and it’s a message that many, many Americans who voted for Obama agree with.
    I think this comes through very clearly from Obama, especially when he talks about problems related to the environment, energy, infrastructure and education. These are long-standing and somewhat obvious problems that the United States has collectively failed to deal with. While these problems have festered, we have treated ourselves to excessive consumption and excessive borrowing. Massive long-term challenges requiring substantial public investment and a harnessing of effort and resources have been staring us right in the face – but we have procrastinated and spent.
    Judis seems to be suggesting that we should just blame “the government” for all these failures. True enough. But our government generally panders to the whims of blocs of Americans. Anyway, we are the government. If our government has failed, it is because we have failed. George Bush didn’t launch the Iraq War in a vacuum. He had substantial public support – not unanimous support, but substantial majority support.
    The problems of the degradation of the environment and addiction to foreign energy supplies haven’t gotten worse because the American people have been crying out for change while the mean old government was standing in the way. There have been plenty of activists preaching the need for action, sure, but a lot of Americans decided they wanted a go-go-consumption bubble and government inaction instead. And a lot of other Americans can’t tear themselves away from their brain-dead entertainments long enough even to figure out what is going on.

    Reply

  16. carsick says:

    Steve,
    Many of your topic commentors seem unable to sit back and enjoy a day where our country like few others, once again, had a peaceful transition of power.
    This was a good day.

    Reply

  17. Don Bacon says:

    Khe Sanh was an isolated Marine outpost attacked Jan 21 to Apr 8, 1968 by Vietnamese forces, with US losses of 205 killed in action, 1,668 wounded, and 25 missing and presumed dead.
    Khe Sanh was abandoned in June 1968 by the US military and the gradual withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam began the following year.
    One historian believes that Khe Sanh was a feint, a diversionary effort for the coming Vietnamese Tet offensive, but the real meaning of Khe Sanh is referred to as the “riddle of Khe Sanh”.
    One non-riddle is the bravery of the men involved at Khe Sanh, which is the point of Obama’s reference to it.
    President George W. Bush paid a four-day official visit to Vietnam Nov 17, 2006. He affirmed that he would do his utmost to continue strengthen Vietnam-US bilateral relations.

    Reply

  18. DonS says:

    Dan, I found the Khe Sanh reference particularly interesting. He gave a shout out to Vietnam vets. Did it also blur the ongoing cotroversy over Vietnam, a misguided war of choice, totally out of line with the other wars of the mentioned battles? Did that mean Obama is blurry on the controversy, or comes down in favor of endorsing the use of power underlying Vietnam? WWII is self explanatory, and the Civil and Revolutionaryr wars are mostly lost in myth; not so Vietnam, at least not to me.
    Perhaps I am extrapolating too much, but coming up to the 70’s, with Vietnam, but not bringing in the Iraq wars, say the battle of Basra, was that a slap in the face of Bush’s chosen war? Certainly the soldiers valor was as great.
    To my mind, Vietnam was equally if not more controversial than Iraq, yet Obama chose not to include it in his litany.

    Reply

  19. Don Bacon says:

    DK: “this speech strongly featured Obama the “conservative” voice.”
    Well, Barack Obama has been a Ronald Reagan admirer.
    Obama: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

    Reply

  20. WigWag says:

    I know this will make Marty Peretz happy but I wonder how Washington Note readers will feel about it.
    From Daily Intel (NY Magazine)
    New Republic Will Be White House Required Reading, Says Emanuel 1/19/09 at 9:17 AM
    “…Emauel said that on inauguration night, he would be making his mother proud by dancing up a storm at some balls, though he promised his dance moves these days are “nothing that’s worth watching, I can tell you that for sure.” He also may be able to make his mom happy in other ways. He announced that the New Republic, which was required reading during his childhood, “will be required reading in the White House.”

    Reply

  21. Dan Kervick says:

    While it will not be any surprise at all to those who are familiar with Obama’s other speeches, particularly his several commencement addresses, this speech strongly featured Obama the “conservative” voice. He presented himself as conservative guardian of traditional American values: hard work; personal and civic responsibility; obligations of fealty to those who have come before us and sacrificed for our benefit; the necessity of public and personal virtue and good habits; temperance and sobriety; modesty in the pursuits of leisure, fame and riches; humility; restraint; thrift and frugality. He sounded like Ben Franklin.
    Very high on Obama’s list of personal virtues appears to be industry, and he often expresses various degrees of contempt for those who pursue a life of ease over productive work, especially work in service to others. Obama is constantly extolling the work ethic, and frequently reminds his audience that the things we want will require an abundance of hard work. He mentioned work about a dozen times in the speech.
    I thought there was much in this speech that could have been taken as reaching out to older Americans, who are perhaps anxious about a young president, or put off by talk of a new generation of leadership or a generational shift. He uses the word “generation” many times in the speech, but never to draw any kind of generational divide, or suggest a generational passing of the torch. He instead addresses his entire audience – presumably all living Americans – as “this generation”, and then calls the audience to reflect on the legacy and sacrifice of past generations, or on our common duty to future generations. The generational framework is thus not used to mark a split between some living Americans and others, but instead collects an undefined “we” or “us” into a single group with reference to those who have gone before and those who are yet to come.
    Many lines on the speech touch on the value of tradition and the importance of intergenerational and adult responsibility, especially the obligations of the current generation to the generations past:
    “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.”
    “faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.”
    “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”
    “For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
    “mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.”
    “We are the keepers of this legacy.”

    Reply

  22. DonS says:

    Don: “Obama continues to lie about the non-existent Iran nuclear weapons program, doesn’t he.”
    So this onging charade of ‘diplomatize’, if you will, transferred from one administration to the next. Is this the starting point in the negotiation the Obama is not allowed to transgress? Is that’s what its about? Transparency is only to be practiced in those instances where we choose? We the people are not to be let in on that which seems patent to anyone reading something other than the American press? Meanwhile, as a consequence, the American public continues to be misled that Iran is a nuclear boogeyman.
    Seems like it’s “yellowcake” all over again. If Obama truly wants to turn over a new leaf Iran would be a good place to start. Perhpas when Steve finishes partying and such he will weigh in on some of the foreign policy implications he sees byond today’s rhetoric.

    Reply

  23. Don Bacon says:

    Tony,
    re: “patent naked lies”
    Obama continues to lie about the non-existent Iran nuclear weapons program, doesn’t he.

    Reply

  24. TonyForesta says:

    It’s not the words that matter Don Bacon, but the individual that speaks the words, and the integrity and conviction of that individual, and if that individual actually abides by and honors the words and the promises.
    We know bush’s promises and words and promises were and remain completely hollow, substantless, and in many instances – patent naked lies.
    Obama is a different individual than bush with entirely different convictions, entirely different approaches, entirely different idea’s, an entirely different sense of integrity, and an entirely different set of principles.
    You can waste this day attempting to slime Obama, by comparing him with bush if you want, – but I am going to enjoy the moment, celebrate the hope and the palpable shift leave you to your opinions. Peace.

    Reply

  25. Don Bacon says:

    Tony,
    Exactly my point. It’s just a political speech, not dis-similar from many others.
    How much power does a president have to change fundamental American problems, even should he want to? Regarding foreign affairs there’s precious little evidence that he even wants to, or that he would be allowed to do so by the congress. Jimmy Carter, remember, was quickly neutered by his Democratic congress, and Dem conservatism lives on currently with the resurgent Blue Dogs in the House.

    Reply

  26. TonyForesta says:

    Maybe so Don Bacon, but all of Bush lofty promises and shining words have proved hollow and moot, if not outright fictions.
    For example: “…And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. . .I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well.” No leadership in the modern history America has done more to divide the nation than the bushgov; rich from poor, liberal from conservative, gop from dnc, nativeborn from immigrant. And no leadership in the modern history of America has done more damage to principles of justice by mangling, dismembering. and reengineeriing the rule of law and our Constitution than the bushgov. Civil???? I won’t waste time.
    We will all measure Obama as harshly as Bush based on his actions, and the true weight of his promises being kept or broken.
    For me there is no dimishing the glow of this momentus day in our history, and the palpable sense of a real shift in spirit and direction for America. Eight years of terror and fear a behind us. America is emerging from the dark shadows of the dragons wing and there is a new light, that no cynic, or doubter, or opposition can shade. Not this day.
    Today is a day of celebration and hope. To celebrate the beauty and malleability of an America and a system of government that while imperfect and still evolving enabled and afforded the people the freedom to elect Barak Hussain Obama as President. It is also a day of hope. A day of hope that “winter of our hardship” will thaw and end, – of hope that America, that “…we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” – and of hope that America is once more a nation that honors and abides the rule of law and the Constitution.

    Reply

  27. Don Bacon says:

    And how about FDR — he was sworn in four times!

    Reply

  28. Don Bacon says:

    Forty-three men have served as presidents, but we’ve had forty-four presidents? Because the sun passes overhead every day it’s a new star?
    SC: “Grover Cleveland did it twice as the 22nd and 24th President of the U.S.” So Cleveland wasn’t one president but two? Or was he one president twice? If a president went through two successive swearings-in would he be two presidents at the same time?
    “Forty-three men, not forty-four, have taken the oath of office as President.” Seems to me that Obama is then our forty-third president he said, tongue in cheek.

    Reply

  29. Bill R. says:

    A happy day, Steve. Thanks for your commentary. As much hate as there is here for Warren, inclusion of a conservative evangelical at the table is good for America. And today we are not “red states or blue states, but the United States of America” to quote a skilled orator. I loved the inaugural speech. It’s about identity and values. Liberals are able to claim that common ground of the American story as well or better than any conservative.

    Reply

  30. Don Bacon says:

    We’ve heard it before, including the storm part.
    Obama, 2009: “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.”
    Bush, 2001: “While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. . . sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. . .I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well.”
    Obama, 2009: “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.”
    Bush, 2001: “After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson: ‘We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?’. . . Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today, to make our country more just and generous, to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.”

    Reply

  31. Pacos_gal says:

    A historic moment for the United States. I would hope that no matter how any one voted, that they can appreciate this moment.
    I took the time during Rick Warren’s time slot to go refill my coffee, have a bit of a break and then back for the important stuff.
    I feel such hope for my country now, that I haven’t felt in years. It is emotional on many levels.
    Take care and enjoy the festivities.

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    Congratulations, Americans!
    I hope your new president will be better for America and the
    world than some of us fear.

    Reply

  33. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    The 44the US President Barack Hussian Obama’s oratory on the eve of the oath-taking cermony seems to have been a true reflection of Obama’s promise of rewriting/remaking the history of America.

    Reply

  34. rich says:

    Thanks, Steve.
    A very strong speech. Not just what was said, but the order of it, and how it was phrased.
    Very frank, now that he has the political space to speak freely. I think the purpose and intent of several lines were unmistakeable:
    “At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.”
    Those angry at PE Obama for not speaking out on Gaza, or for Sen. Clinton (sexism) should replay and reread that speech. He laid all it out, as it has to be stated. I expect Bush’s ears had to be burning at two or three points.
    The one I don’t like is the Rick Warren thing, but maybe it’s a message capable of allaying the worst instincts of fanatics, of the demagogue-able. The inclusionary gesture is an interesting power play: blessed by Rick Warren, perhaps the most venomous will be defanged and unable to deny Obama his rightful place. It creates (I hope) a cognitive dissonance too obvious to ignore even in small minds. And I wouldn’t downplay the damage that can be done by the hateful few. Rick Warren, though, may find himself recalibrating his metric of Christian charity; at least, my reflexive willingness to see the generosity of the human spirit in every individual (blame the parents!) would like to think so.

    Reply

  35. carsick says:

    We now know science and art and the rule of law and common respect and children will be returning to the White House. During these perilous times it may be the children there that give us the most comfort and joy.

    Reply

  36. DonS says:

    , , and, too,Lowery invoked a vision of responsibility larger than the US, but including the world, in a tone so very different than the warmongering superpower/threat agent, or the arrogant, patronizing “steward” of Christian tradition.. This was a theme he broached last night on “The News Hour”

    Reply

  37. DonS says:

    exactly right, Steve, on the Lowery text: decried “exploitation of the poor” and called out the rich, more plainly and clearly than anyone, and it needs to be said, and acted upon. It’s hard to underestimate how parochial and formatory Warren came off.

    Reply

  38. ... says:

    congratulations! thanks for the overview steve and i like the idea of including more musicians and relatives of musicians in leadership roles.. making music with others is an exercising in harmony.. i think it is the same with people as well.. listening is the most important skill a musician has with everything else coming after that..

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *