The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

January 24, 2013

Obama’s inaugural message: Just do it!

A lot less gloomy, a little more combative and much more impatient than four years ago, President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address on Monday to urge action on a nation in the grips of inertia.

“Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time,” he said, “but it does require us to act in our time.”

Translation: Listen up, Congress. I’ve got four years left, and we’re going to do things for this country even if I have to make you kick and scream to do them.

“For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay,” the president said. “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

It was a very careful speech. It had been worked on for months, with each word weighed. So it was no accident that Obama used the word “gay” but did not use the word “gun.” The latter has become more controversial than the former these days.

To Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, the speech had a historical framework. At the beginning of his speech, he invoked the most sacred words from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But this was more than just patriotic filler. It was a call to replace inaction with action. “For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing,” Obama said. “While freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.”

In other words, let’s get up and do some things.

Four years ago, Obama and the nation were near despair. “Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred,” he said back then. “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.”

Back then, he talked about lost homes and shuttered businesses, and then spoke of something even worse: “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.”

This time, in this speech, the mood was different.

“A decade of war is now ending; an economic recovery has begun,” the president said on the west steps of the Capitol after taking his oath of office. “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”

Togetherness was very much a theme of the speech. Hyper-partisanship has frozen the machinery of Congress, but the people working together can force a thaw.

And, showing some of the combativeness of his first inaugural address in which he rejected the political philosophies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Obama directly scorned the philosophy of Mitt Romney.

“We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few,” he said. “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.”

He spent little time on foreign policy, except to say that America would defend democracy across the globe. But there are limits. “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” he said.

Then he swung back to America, delving into its past, praising the “pioneers” who had been at Seneca Falls (for women’s right in 1848), and Selma (for civil rights in 1965), and Stonewall (for gay rights in 1969).

“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began,” he said, and then talked about how America’s journey was not complete until there were equal rights for women, for “our gay brothers and sisters,” for “hopeful immigrants” and “until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.”

In coded language calling for gun control but carefully avoiding that term, he added: “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.”

He added with the same message that he had emphasized throughout his campaign: There are no guarantees, but at least we are all in this together.

“With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication,” he said, “let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.”

Let’s just do it. Now!

To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

© 2013 CREATORS.COM

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Education a priority? Don’t believe it

    They did it – more or less.

    They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don McNay.jpg Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?

    A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results