Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations to President Barack Obama

It wasn't till this evening that I was able to watch the Inauguration Address by President Obama. It was a speech I was glad to listen to, a moment in history I'm thankful to be part of. If you haven't seen the speech yet, here it is on YouTube.

Some impressions having watched the speech now:
* I'm looking forward to Obama's new style of leadership; the confidence, boldness, and eagerness to effect change is refreshing and inspiring.

* I resonate with his oft repeated phrase: we have chosen hope over fear. I voted for him out of hope of what he might be able to accomplish; I felt like a vote for McCain would have been done in a spirit of fear.

* I have big expectations for Obama, and yet I presume that he will disappoint in some ways, have a scandal or two emerge, and have many situations where he will be exposed as not living up to his promises and lofty prose.

* The beginning of the Bush presidency was also filled with some level of hope, but also mired in controversy about legitimacy due to Al Gore's challenge; Bush promised change, accountability, smaller government, effectiveness, a better America - and he didn't deliver. He has seemed to botch his responses to the major crises of our day; it's possible that Obama will botch it too - albeit for very different reasons. But Obama is not riding the coat-tails of his family's political dynasty, is not coming in on big family wealth, is not seeking to outdo his father as president; Obama's agenda is very different, and seemingly more promising.

* I respect his approach to the Muslim world - firm, engaging, hope-filled, informed.

* I identify with his rejection of false-choices, of either/or responses. It's not free-market or socialism, security or liberty, social conservatism or liberal idealism. The world is more complex than we imagine it to be, the solutions require more nuance than we realize, and our perspective is so limited in comparison to the actual events which transpire.

* I like the pragmatic approach Obama is taking to leading the country, based on wisdom about what will work best - we'll see how well it works out for him.

* I value the historical connections Obama links to his vision of America: invoking Lincoln, referencing George Washington, appealing to Martin Luther King, Jr., and using Scripture.

* McCain would have been more of the same; with Obama we are definitely getting someone different in the White House. We'll see if he's different enough to resist the deadly status quo of DC politics.

Here's the text for the speech.

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