A Cautious Beginning
In his inaugural address, Obama's characteristic rhetorical flourishes were on display, but the audience seemed to be more the rest of the world than us in the US. He was strong on resoluteness and hope, and relentlessly optimistic, but not so strong on the realistic side of the equation. Where was a discussion of the sacrifices that will have to be made, the losses that will be felt, and the inevitable setbacks that will ensue as he and his Administration try new experiments to address crises at home and abroad (crises which have proven quite intractable to date when addressed with tools within our current repertoire, and even some well outside it)? There was none of FDR's insight about the emotional aspects of our distress ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"), Churchill's brutal honesty ("blood, toil, tears, and sweat") or JFK's request for help and sacrifice ("Ask not what your country can do for you-- ask what you can do for your country"). I have too much audacity-- and too much invested in Obama's success-- to lose hope, but it was a speech, unlike his race speech, which displayed his caution, not his boldness. It was risk-averse beginning.
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