Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let's Get to Work

A million people on the mall. Photo shot looking toward the Washington Monument
I just reread Obama's inaugural address, and I like it better. I'm not saying I didn't like it the first time, but I have a tendency to not pay enough attention when I first hear something. I guess I'm a visual learner, rather than an auditory one.

The highlights for me:

  • The overall message that we have to put away childish things and accept sacrifice, responsibility and common effort if we're going to have a chance of solving the problems we face. I've been waiting for years for a politician to say that and mean it.
  • The statement that he will return science to its proper place in government decision making.
  • "We reject the false choice between our safety and our ideals."
  • The inclusion of nonbelievers in his list of belief communities. (That probably surprised me more than anything in the whole speech.)
I thought that closing with George Washington and the "winter of our hardship" was appropriate and moving. (Although I may resonate more than many people with the revolutionary army's situation, having read a fair amount about it.) I think the decision to quote Washington was meant to reinforce that Obama is in some ways moving beyond race -- since Washington, the slave-owning father of our country, is not usually a prime source of quotes for black folks.

As for Rick Warren's invocation, I thought it was perfunctory and forgettable. Joseph Lowery's benediction, on the other hand, was memorable. I especially liked his urging that we "turn to each other and not on each other." It was a fitting conclusion to the inauguration ceremony.

And now, let's get to work!

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