It is also a time for the president to lay out his vision for the nation. The tone has been set by past presidents with phrases and lines that immediately resonate, uplift and inspire. Among the most memorable were Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” Reagan’s “The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price,” Roosevelt’s “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and even Clinton’s “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
Among the maybe lesser known today, but still inspiring words, can be added those of Jefferson (“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”) and Washington (“The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.”). But maybe more appropriate than any, after the hyper-partisanship of recent elections, might be those of Abraham Lincoln, who said “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
Sadly, Obama’s second inaugural did none of the above. Given on the same day we celebrated the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., that iconic preacher and civil rights advocate who shared with all of America his dream that we would see the day when the color of a man’s skin was less important than the content of his character, Obama instead used his stage to insult and further demonize those opposing his big government, socially liberal agenda. While tossing out a few rhetorical “shout-outs” to the principles and vision of America’s greatest presidents, the substance of Obama’s speech might as well have been a campaign speech to college students in Madison, Wisc., or labor union leaders in Ohio. It was a full speech dedicated to the sentiment uttered by Obama shortly after taking office in 2009, when he told Republicans, “I won,” and that they could ride on the bus, but would have to “sit in the back.”
Winning a major Electoral College victory by maximizing turnout in key states while getting just a sliver over half of the popular vote, from Obama we got a speech from a man who apparently thinks he won an overwhelming mandate for his statist agenda, rather than realizing his election (receiving 10 million fewer votes than four years ago) was simply the result of benefitting from an increasingly demoralized and apathetic electorate willing to re-elect the devil they know, rather than take a chance on the devil they don’t.
And so it was that Obama laid out this grand statist, uber-liberal vision for his second term, calling for, among other things, “progress” on controversial issues such as immigration, homosexual marriage, climate change (formerly known as global warming, and a few scant decades before that, global cooling), equal pay for women, a shrinking of America’s leadership role in geopolitical affairs, and, of course, a rigorous defense of America’s massive and continually expanding entitlement state programs. Tellingly, he made almost no mention of jobs and the economy. I wonder why …
At times, Obama’s words were downright Orwellian when contrasted with his actual first term record. For example, he lectured his fellow Americans that “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.” Grand and lofty goals, worthy of our support, no? Yet it is his signature achievement, ObamaCare, which forced on us a government bureaucracy-driven, labyrinthine health care leviathan which has actually increased the rate at which health insurance premiums have risen, and has tripled in cost in less than four years, while reducing access to doctors. Even more frightening is the fact that the most expensive provisions have not kicked in yet. And Obama accrued more debt in four years than Bush did in eight, and more than every previous president COMBINED!
He went on to say that “The commitments we make to each other, through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.” However, if he was being truthful, he’d point out that the three major entitlement programs are already at or near bankruptcy, with a shrinking number of workers paying for the benefits of a growing number of beneficiaries, and that such a trajectory will inevitably lead to economic collapse. If he were being truthful, he would also acknowledge that these “commitments” do indeed sap our initiative, as they free some from the risk and cost of these obligations, not by eliminating that risk or obligation, but by transferring them to others to pay.
He laughably claimed that “an economic recovery has begun.” I suppose that will be great news to those tens of millions of Americans who remain unemployed or underemployed after four years of his “leadership,” and even more who are on food stamps, and all of those who somehow missed out on the stimulus, “Recovery Summer,” “Recovery Summer 2,” etc., which has left us for four years in a state of anemic and stagnant growth, with more and more Americans dependent on government for their basic subsistence.
He also said, “Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play … we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.”
Ensure competition and fair play? Like the hundreds of billions in taxpayer bailouts to massive corporations (Goldman Sachs and Solyndra ring a bell?) which funnel money to politicians, while small businesses and community banks get screwed over? Skepticism of central authority? His entire presidency has been dedicated to expansion of government scope and power! Hard work and personal responsibility? Is that why he made sure that 26-year-old “children” could stay on their parents’ health insurance plans?
Sadly, as gifted an orator as Obama is, his may well go down in history as the “Twinkie presidency”; one where the American people were fed delicious promises, only to find them completely devoid of substance and nutrition. So what is Obama’s vision for his second term? Sadly, just more of his first term … massive new debt, sustained unemployment, anemic economic growth, expansion of the nanny government, and a heavy dose of more class and race warfare. Lucky us …
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.