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January 20, 2009

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If anyone wants to reflect on the Address, it's here.

Amen. If he governs like he speaks, he will go down in history as one of the truly great presidents.

Quite simply, the United States has grasped the possibility of leading the world by inspiration. Whether you succeed or you we have yet to see. But you now have a president who can make a moral appeal, and rightly or wrongly, your government has not had that ability for some time.

Seb: Great excerpts. Each of those passages had me nodding along in real time.

Thank you, Sebastian, for luring me to ObWi and for this.

So say we all!

Amen.

*grins great big enormous grin*

"Quite simply, the United States has grasped the possibility of leading the world by inspiration."

Again.

"Is this a jab at farm subsidies or am I too hopeful?"

I think it's the insight of a man who spent age six to ten in Indonesia.

"The instruments with which we meet them may be new."

Seizure of the means of production will come tomorrow! Huzzah!

My copy of Word says, btw, that the Address was only 2,401 words; he really did look to Lincoln.

American political conventional wisdom in a nutshell.

It's the job of the Republicans, when in office, to push the center of gravity ever rightward, because they hold a mandate from the people who voted them into office.

It's the job of the Democrats, when in office, to split the difference, because the people who didn't vote them into office might otherwise find them scary and icky.

Now let's all party like it's 1993.

Now let's all party like it's 1993.

I fully expect to be disappointed by Obama on a regular basis. But I'm OK with that.

He's a very smart, highly pragmatic guy, who's coming from a small-d democratic point of view. He's going out of his way to not let pissing matches stand in the way of getting things done.

Hallelujah.

Today, I'm feeling not so much excited and joyful. I'm feeling more that tentative sense of relief that you feel when you come out on the other side of trauma. I feel like I can finally relax, take a deep breath, and trust that something really awful is not highly likely to happen in the next ten minutes.

Mostly I want to find a quiet place to sit down and cry.

I am, sincerely, not saying this to pick on Bush, it is, simply, my experience of the day.

So, yeah, Obama will maybe sort of split the difference between Eisenhower and Kennedy, but I'm not seeing that as a bad thing today.

Maybe that makes your point, and I don't mean to dismiss your point, but frankly it all feels like a gift to me.

I hadn't reflected on it too much until I read Seb's piece -- work called.

Luckily, this being my 1-9 day, I got to see the Address and, agreeing with Seb, it was not a political speech, it was an American speech, one of American ideals.

The politics will surely come in how we reach them, but that's for another day.

On this day, seeing those waves of people filling every inch of my TV screen, young and old -- those are the faces that caught me, the very old, usually with tears, and the very young, witnessing history for the first time -- on this day, I am proud to be an American.

P.S. Gary: Obama showed his mastery of words, the moment and speaking again with, as you note, the relative brevity of the Address.

..... a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

Best part of the whole speech. How did Seb miss it?

the Address was only 2,401 words; he really did look to Lincoln.

2401 is 7^4. i think that was as secret shout-out to Four Sevens Oil.

Truth is, Obama's boring, once you get beyond the infatuation with identity politics. But boring is what the country needs. The sooner people see him for what he is and accept that -- a very self-controlled, middle-of-the-road, well educated 40-something -- the easier you make it for the guy to get re-elected. 08 was never that big a problem, 12 will be, and all this talk of Lincoln, JFK and MLK is only setting him up for a hard fall.

He himself realises this, for months he's tried to be boring, and I applaud that.

I don't agree that he is boring. Rather, even though I will likely disagree with a lot of his program, he is substantive and without guile. With Clinton, I always tried to figure what, if anything, he was actually saying. With Bush, I kept waiting for him to say something that had some thought behind it. Obama, like him or not, the man says what he means and what he intends.

I wanna stay right here, soaring on Obama's rhetorical updrafts and Sebastian's quoting of those rhetorical updrafts and his very fine post.

I don't want to awake tomorrow morning and see that the XLF (financial stock ATF)closed at a new low.

Something very scary and bottomless is happening.

Too late John. You'd better sleep in and not turn on the TV.

But there are cartoons!

Something very scary and bottomless is happening.

Not that this is my field or anything, but I think what is happening is that pretty much all of our financial institutions gambled and lost, and lost a lot.

We can say it's a credit squeeze, or a liquidity issue, or whatever. Bottom line is that the banks and other financial institutions are broke. Flat broke. Busted. They have no money.

When Mama's not happy, nobody happy.

When the banks have no money, nobody has money.

Get ready to pony up.

"Truth is, Obama's boring, once you get beyond the infatuation with identity politics."

I really disagree. He is self-controlled, but I think he's one of the more interesting people to have run for President ever -- in the sense of having a genuinely interesting mind.

It was one of the smallish number of things that I had to actively try not to let influence me. Since, of course, lots of people with interesting minds would make terrible Presidents. (President Kierkegaard? *shudders*) (Not suggesting that Obama's mind is as interesting as K's.)

I agree that BHO has a keen mind and is more forthwright than previous occupants of the white house. But like Russell I think we're past the tipping point, now there are no solutions left. The time where a little tinkering around the edges would fix things is over. Even if obama knew this the system is not set up to make the necessary changes to ease our decline. Obama has tried to lower expectations but I don't think it will be enough. Lots of people are hoping that it can go back to how it was. But those days are gone, never to return.

Well, he likes "The Fugees" and lists "Ready or Not" as his number one song, not "Killing Me Softly", which would have been the boring choice, so that's indicative of a certain hipness.

But if boring means the absence of quasi-monarchical presidential porn a la Kennedy and the unwillingness to fight wars in order to be seen as "doing something", then I hope he's boring.

But like Russell I think we're past the tipping point, now there are no solutions left.

Not to argue with your basic point, but "past the tipping point" isn't quite what I intended. Sorry for being unclear.

I just think the banks are broke. They took the money, went to the track, and lost.

Poof! All gone!

So now we will have to work our behinds off to make up that lost ground. Personally, and as a nation.

I heartily agree, or at least fervently hope, that we *do not* go back to the way things were. The way things were was, IMO, fundamentally fraudulent.

But I don't see the economy of the US as irreversably doomed. It is, however, likely to tough times for a few years for lots of folks, more than a few years for some.

But if boring means the absence of quasi-monarchical presidential porn a la Kennedy and the unwillingness to fight wars in order to be seen as "doing something", then I hope he's boring.

Beautifully put, novakant. I fear that there's a good chunk of the intra-beltway media that will be looking to "Camelotize" the Obama White House...not out of any particular political allegiance to the Prez, but as a means of generating hype, making bucks, and inflating their own self-importance ("I was THERE, man!"). I sincerely hope that Obama is level-headed enough to not feed the beast.


I don't agree that he is boring. Rather, even though I will likely disagree with a lot of his program, he is substantive and without guile. With Clinton, I always tried to figure what, if anything, he was actually saying. With Bush, I kept waiting for him to say something that had some thought behind it. Obama, like him or not, the man says what he means and what he intends.

I don't have much to add that hasn't already been said above by others, but I do want to compliment mckinneytexas on making an observation which I think has the twin virtues of (1) showing a commendable degree of political insight (IMHO), and (2) is complimentary to a leader supported by majority opinion on a forum where he (mckinney) is most likely in the minority with regard to a number of the issues which are prominent and contentious here. That is a classy thing to do.

So thanks for a classy comment, mckinney.

One of the things that I like about this blog in particular is that (IMHO) folks here attempt to create frank and honest but respectful discussion between people who disagree with each other, often passionately. And sometimes even manage to accomplish what we are aiming for, in that regard. I like to think that part of what Obama is aiming for is similar, on a national scale. I hope it works.


With regard to hilzoy’s comment:


I really disagree. He is self-controlled, but I think he's one of the more interesting people to have run for President ever -- in the sense of having a genuinely interesting mind.
It was one of the smallish number of things that I had to actively try not to let influence me. Since, of course, lots of people with interesting minds would make terrible Presidents. (President Kierkegaard? *shudders*) (Not suggesting that Obama's mind is as interesting as K's.)

One of the things that has struck me from watching Obama is his habit of pausing in the middle of speaking, most noticeably when he is answering a question. Perhaps this is simply a verbal tic and not a deeper indicator of cognitive activity, but I like to imagine that he actually thinks about the questions posed to him in real time, rather than choosing from a menu of pre-fabricated responses (which appears to be the norm for political leaders). I think we may have a leader who is a truly analytic thinker, and hope that this will prove to be an asset in dealing with the challenges which are ahead.

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