The Speech, etc.

By Jeffrey Page

–I liked it. But even more, I liked the attitude. For this was no happy thank-you. This was no self-congratulation. And this was no wise-acre government-is-the-problem complaint. This was a call to work for a better America.

–I liked Obama’s use of 18th century imagery that Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, other Congressional yahoos, and the Second Amendment crowd could understand (if not appreciate): “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.” The message I took from the business of “privileges of the few” is that no longer will the middle class be required to preserve, protect and defend the insanely low tax rates of the wealthy.

–Obama’s several uses of “we the people” amounted to a message to those who forget that “we the people” are the first three words of the Constitution, and are quickly followed by “in order to form a more perfect union.” I may be politically naïve – I lost $5 betting on McGovern in ’72 – but the use of “we the people” suggests that it’s him and us together on this train, and if the forces of darkness want to hop aboard for the ride to enlightenment, that’s OK. But they’ve got to wipe the manure from their shoes. If, however, they choose to stand on the tracks to stop the train, they’d do well to bring their last political wills and testaments up to date. We’re not stopping, Obama said.

–“For we the people,” Obama said, “understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” Maybe this time the right wing will understand that the poorest Americans are just that – Americans who are broke but not evil – and thus deserving of all the assistance the nation offers to the Chryslers, the Trumps, the Kochs, the Adelsons. Maybe the right will understand this, but I doubt it. I hope President Obama is aware of the coming struggles.

–The president said that we the people agree that every American “deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.” Which means to me, if not to the Tea Party, that when a hurricane ravishes a southern town, of course we rebuild and make repair. And if the storm wreaks havoc on the northeast we fix that as quickly as possible and do not play Tea Party budget games when people are made homeless. Sane human beings never would say: OK, here’s $1 for hurricane relief but you can have it only if you cut other spending by a like amount.

–Obama said children, “from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown,” must know that they are safe. I wish he had said something a little more substantive on the matter of guns.

–Doubtless, Obama recalled the GOP hand-wringing about saddling our children and grandchildren with current national debt when he chose the line: “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.” There’s more than money to worry about.

–What I heard in Obama’s 2,126-word speech was a call to the opposition to get on board or get out of the way. Throughout his talk, I heard reminders to the Tea Party and its unhappy Republican backers that it was Barack Obama who won the election, not what’s-his-name. If they are to be taken seriously, Republicans should remember this.

–The GOP should also remember that when they let loose personal attacks on the president, they let loose on the majority of the American people that re-elected him. True to predictions, the turnout in Washington to bear witness to Obama’s second inauguration was lower than the first one four years ago. But let it be known on the right: He still drew 600,000 people to listen in bitter cold. The White House says it was more like 1 million. Pick a number and know that it was crowded in D.C.

–Clearly, the president will have tough going through 2017. For even as some Republican members of Congress were wishing him well in a second term, I heard a Tea Party woman from Texas express concern on National Public Radio that she still has yet to see Obama’s birth certificate. Again, Obama will have to deal with irrational nitwits who’ll say anything to make him look bad but who wind up looking foolish themselves. Recall, the genius Mitch McConnell saying in 2010 “the single most important [emphasis added] thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Recall the esteemed Sarah Palin warning us that part of Obama’s medical plan were “death panels.”

–If Obama was polite, at times almost obsequious, in his dealings with the GOP for the last four years, he sounded this week like a man who knows he’s been slapped and otherwise disrespected a few too many times. Will he give as good as he gets? Will he tell the next birther with a big mouth to get stuffed? I hope so.

–Obama reminded us of Martin Luther King’s definition of freedom; either we are all free or none of us is free. Those are words that should be recited by Americans every morning before breakfast. He said gay men and women ought to be treated “like anyone else under the law.” That’s a worthy morning prayer as well.

–Great speech. I wish him and us the best.

Tags: , ,

4 Responses to “The Speech, etc.”

  1. Mary Berrigan Says:

    Amen! Thanks, Jeff.
    (glad to be receiving Zest again!)

  2. Anita Manley Says:

    Right on Jeff! I’m with you on all points and damn glad my candidate is here for four more years!!!

  3. Jean Webster Says:

    Good! Yes! Agreed! It was a great day and a great speech, one we won’t soon forget.

  4. bill hogan Says:

    Right on Jeff. I could say it better, but I don’t know how. You write it so well!

Leave a Reply