Obama’s inaugural address continues his post-election pattern of being more moderate and rational than he was in campaigning for the election; however, his speech is also filled with ironies, arrogance, inconsistencies, and glaring grammatical errors.
Ironically, in a way, the focus on and the near worship of Obama as the first black president is a repudiation of the most famous line of the influential and iconic Martin Luther King, who dreamed that people would not be judged by the color of their skin. Although Barack Obama may look black because of the color of his skin, the fact is that he is bi-racial. Identifying this 50-50 hybrid human being as racially black because of the color of his skin makes as much sense as identifying him as white because of the composition of his brain as evaluated by IQ tests purportedly designed by and for whites, not to mention the dialect with which he speaks when addressing mixed audiences.
Ironically, Bill Clinton was known as “the first black president” because of his strong identification with blacks and their causes, yet during Obama’s presidential campaign President Clinton was accused by Obama supporters of being a racist because he simply stated a political reality during the season of the primaries about how a different black presidential candidate had once carried a southern state with a high concentration of blacks, but then lost the overall election.
Ironically, Obama, of course, did not descend from slaves, was raised by his white grandparents, and went to the most prestigious law school in the country, so experientially or environmentally he did not live the typical black experience.
Ironically, although Obama pandered to American blacks throughout the campaign and on to the inaugural address, some of his flowery imagery is contrived but contradictory nevertheless. In referring to the sacrifices of the ancestors of various groups of Americans, Obama gushed, in his inaugural address, that “For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West (ancestors of whites); endured the lash of the whip (black slaves) and plowed the hard earth (whites and blacks)…” The only problem is that the relatively few people who think this through realize that the slaves who endured the lash of the whip did not do it for their future descendants, “for us,” but they did it because they had no choice, because their fellow blacks in Africa had sold them out to become slaves in America.
The ironies aren’t limited to references to blacks. The most notorious series of ironies involves follow-up to the routinely hypocritical statement claiming humility at a time of hubris. Obama began his inaugural address by claiming to be “humbled,” but then he proceeded to claim that virtually all that is good in this world began on the day of his inauguration. “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,” as if no politician before him – Democrats and Republicans—ever made such proclamations or goals before.
“Starting today,” Obama also declared, “we must begin again the work of remaking America,” as if the bipartisan bailout of a couple of months ago never happened, and as if no previous president began comparable work
“The time has come,” exactly on his inauguration day, by coincidence, “to reaffirm our enduring spirit,” as if until that day, no American—not Reagan, not Clinton—ever reaffirmed our enduring spirit.
Yet in the same inaugural address, Obama seems to lose his moral compass by blaming our weakened economy primarily on “greed and irresponsibility,” obvious code words for the wealthy Republican businessmen, the rich big companies, and the supposedly irresponsible Republican administration, when in fact much of the blame belongs on the Democrats who were the main initiators and supporters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, pressuring banks to lend money to people who couldn’t even afford a down payment, much less the ability to keep up with mortgages in tough economic times…
Continuing his barely coded partisan attacks on President Bush and the Republicans, Obama referred to “our collective failure to make hard choices,” knowing that President Bush has repeatedly reminded the American people, especially in recent weeks, that even those who disagree with his policies have to concede that at least he made the hard choices.
The all knowing Obama stated that “without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control,” although during the 6 years that the Republicans controlled Congress, through to the beginning of 2007, the markets and most economic indicators were going up, and the market only spun out of control in 2008, shortly after the Democrats took over and had an opportunity to make an impact.
Obama stated that “a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous,” which is a particularly preposterous condemnation of the Republicans considering that rich people pay much higher rates of income, property, and most other taxes than poor people even in Republican administrations, and the regressive use tax has not been imposed in America even in Republican administrations.
Obama declared that America is “ready to lead once more,” as if the coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan were led by countries other than America.
Martin Luther King had a dream for the future, which was realized in the reality of Obama’s election in the recent past, but Obama seems to have delusions in dreaming of the past. He claims that the people in the Muslim world “will” – rather than “should”—judge their leaders on what they can build and not what they destroy. Tell that to the people of Gaza who took the highly lucrative greenhouses left behind by the Israelis for the use of the Arabs, and burned them to the ground, while spending a high percentage of their income on rockets aimed at civilians in Israel rather than on spending their money on infrastructure
Obama seeks a “new way forward” in dealing with the Muslim world, “based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” He seems to forget that this is what the Israelis have offered time and again, along with land and prisoners in exchange for nothing more than broken promises of peace.
Most inaugural addresses present ideas for the future. But Obama’s seems to try to make people believe that most of his ideas have not been tried and implemented in the past.
Obama states “we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders,” implicitly criticizing the Republican party as well as the American people who have clearly helped more people around the world through every calamitous “Act of God” and of inhumane man imaginable, more than any other country. The Republicans freed the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, and the Afghanistan people from the Taliban. What we American people can truly no longer afford is politicians who cloak themselves in the garb of the Messiah, but then garble their words and condemn the greatest people in the greatest country in the world, and promise change which will not necessarily be for the better.
Obama is definitely a man to be admired. Nobody in the history of American politics raised more money in a political campaign, although from illegal foreign as well as domestic sources; nobody in the history of American politics had more questionable associations that became public during a political campaign, and won the support of the press and the people anyway; nobody in the history of American politics had a history of voting for tax increases throughout his career, but successfully campaigned on the promise of lowering taxes for the middle classes. Nobody else in history was able to convince the American people that he was qualified to run for president with so little political experience in anything other than running for office. No other president was compared to the Messiah even before being elected.
Putting country first, I hope Obama will succeed, notwithstanding his tactics in getting elected, and many of his values in devaluing the rights of hard working individuals (despite uncharacteristically advocating many classic American and Republican values in his inaugural address), but I believe that the only way that Obama will succeed will be if he will continue his current trend toward moderation (to the consternation of most of the people who elected him), and bring back more pragmatists from past administrations, so that the vague changes he promises will not be to the detriment of the country, as originally indicated, but actually for the greater good!
P.S. For the record, the most glaring of Obama’s grammatical errors is actually one of the greatest of the many reversals he has made since the election. He praised those “who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job,” thereby not merely going against the rules of grammar as to the individual and the many (singular and plural), but also going against one of the cardinal rules of many unions, in greedily seeking unjustifiably high salaries and benefits for certain individuals at the expense of the many who do not have comparable salaries and benefits. Let us hope the newly anointed president will promote equal opportunity for all employees (maintaining the secret ballot, for example, in the face of many “liberals’” current un-American advocacy of denying them the secret ballot in favor of intimidation), as well as proper grammar in all sentences.
Aaron Reichel is a New York attorney whose writings have been widely published and republished, some in the U.S. Congressional Record. His most notable book remains Fahrenheit 9-12 – Rebuttal to Fahrenheit 9/11.
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