I will now continue where I left off yesterday in my "instanalysis" of President Obama's inaugural address.
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
I don't know what the harnessing of new ideas and technology to remake our government is all about. We cannot ask, and he was not telling. But it sounds, well, technocratic and rather sinister. As in, Chained CPI, granny-starving (h/t Charles Pierce) sinister. But we do know what his definition of "school reform" is, all too well. It's privatization. It includes more standardized tests to get rid of unionized teachers and to close schools in poor neighborhoods, as well as enabling profiteering through charter schools run by unqualified vulture capitalists.
"Empowering our citizens with the skills they need to work harder" sounds like a motto Joe Stalin might have dreamed up for his forced labor camps. Propaganda for the shock worker who will gladly absorb training to work longer hours for decreased wages for the glory of
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
This part is simply the standard ode to American Exceptionalism and cheerleading for Empire that is obligatory to every Presidential Pronouncement. We will force our democracy down the throats of every backwater whose real estate is coveted by our multinational, tax-evading, plundering corporations. "We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
This was the part with the obligatory alliterative flourish, as well as a nod to Martin Luther King Jr, whose leftist legacy has been bowdlerized into a kind of warm, fuzzy, do- and feel-good Kumbayism, with nary a nod to the fact that Dr. King's anti-war, pro-labor actions and words made him a virtual Enemy of the Government and even a reputed target for official assassination before an escaped convict conveniently obliged in that task. Stonewall was acknowledged as that original band of radical gay rights activists who fought back against institutional homophobia, and Seneca Falls, of course, was the birthplace of the American women's suffrage movement.
It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
A few more platitudinous paragraphs follow, too generic to analyze in any cogent way. You can read the whole thing here.
Before I forget, I want to include a comment I made to a Sunday NYT op-ed by a CEO complaining about what a lousy manager President Obama is. If only he could learn to delegate authority to his underlings and canoodle with Congress, kvetches David Rothkopf, Obama could rate above the C+ grade he gives him. My (buried) response:
The president is an excellent manager, and an excellent collaborator. He managed to ensure that the mega-banks are still too big to fail and too big to jail. He managed to ensure that private insurance predators are not going to be left out of "near-universal" coverage (which does not, by the way, equate with actual health care.) He managed to leave Iraq only because its government refused to grant the troops immunity from prosecution for possible future misdeeds, and he still managed surround Iran with a plethora of military bases and economic sanctions. He managed to create a dubious rationale for his continuing campaign of targeted assassinations by drone, and he managed to avoid answering to either Congress or the American people on just who the Patriot Act manages to sweep up in its massive spying.eavesdropping. He managed to prosecute more whistleblowers than any previous administration. He managed to keep Gitmo open. He managed to fast-track Arctic oil drilling, fracking on federal lands, and squelching scientific reports on how fracking pollutes our lands. He managed to get sweeping bipartisan support for his Jump Start Our Business Start-Ups Act to make it easier to defraud consumers. And he still manages to enjoy a 50% approval rating!
I would give Obama an A-plus in management. It is too bad that all this author manages to do is sound petty and left out of the inner circle of Obama confidantes. We already have Maureen Dowd to fulfill that function.And speaking of the New York Times, if you happen to suffer from photophobia, please do avoid their home-page today. The Obama inauguration lights blazing there are bright enough to cause snow-job blindness. So if you think my parsing of the president's speech is too harsh, you might want to check out their various analyses. The gist is that he has magically evolved into a progressive for the ages overnight. Or, as Alicia Keys sang it the inaugural ball last night -- "Obama's on Fiyuh."