Obama’s Inaugural: "We the people."

Back in January and February of 2007, Hannah was not a happy camper. I wrote things like the following, published on Blue Hampshire:

I have awoken in high dudgeon. You know it takes hearing something a couple of times before it sinks in, but I can tell you now that I’m not liking what I’m hearing from the Democrats.

I only caught a snippet of Hillary sitting in a comfy chair and telling me she wants to have a conversation. Her public relations person, Karen Hicks, used that verbiage too. Well, my response is “lady, I do not have time to have a conversation with you. I’m too busy trying to think of ways to straighten out the mess you all have made in Washington. Because, you know, the Republicans didn’t do it all by themselves.”

I do not want to hear about conversations and I do not want to hear about having more hope from Obama and making a big effort together from Dodd. This is not an “ask not what your country can do for you” moment. This is a “we’re really sorry we screwed up” moment. It’s a moment to get to work and figure out how this mess is going to get straightened out.

Because, things didn’t just happen. Mistakes weren’t just made. Jobs did not move overseas by themselves. The ruling elite, both in government and out, got seduced by the notion of being a global presence, of jetting around the orb we call earth and having adventures and taking risks with other people’s money and other people’s kids. And the worst part of all is that they all pretended to be doing it for us. And now that us has been totally screwed, they want us to buck up, to take a deep breath, to put our heads together and set it all right.

Eventually, I ended up supporting Chris Dodd in the primary, because Barack Obama simply did not impress.

While the following was penned before Obama’s February 15, 2007 visit, his presentation at the University of New Hampshire did not do much to change first impressions.

Caught on the fly by the media yesterday, Senator Obama was heard to object that the press is focusing on his swimming trunks and ignoring his policy positions. Having read the speech prepared to be delivered in Springfield, Illinois (because that’s where he made his mark as a legislator and where President Lincoln started his run), I think I know why the press is ignoring it. The speech is a mess. If there were room for a kitchen sink, you couldn’t find it. Even the transitions from ‘I’ and ‘me’ to ‘us’ and ‘we’ and then to ‘you’ and ‘they’ are dizzying. It’s really hard to figure out who’s supposed to be doing what. Certainly, there’s little hint of what a President Obama, as chief administrator of an organization, is going to do to correct the corruption and mistakes that are all too obvious at present.

Really, I’m just dragging that back up to explain why I was particularly caught by the “We, the people” phrase in the Second Inaugural (seven paragraphs were dedicated to that theme) and wondering how come the press hasn’t picked up on that. Then it turns out, it has. Paul Rondeau, a columnist for The Washington Times latched on to it. In fact, the lede by Paul Rondeau is quite surprising:

WASHINGTON, DC, January 22, 2013 : Our 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, gave a powerful, moving inaugural speech as he once again publicly assumed the reins of power. His soaring rhetoric drew upon values that America holds most sacred: freedom, God, and country.

And sort of disappointing. Because it’s obviously designed to mislead. By including himself in the host of “we, the people,” and proclaiming that citizens govern, President Obama is, according to the conservative mind, rejecting power. Rondeau sees a paradox in the sentence:

‘Fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.’

That every individual’s rights, regardless of whether that individual is, as they used to say, “animal, vegetable or mineral,” depends on respect for integrity and the obligation to recognize the attributes on which those rights are based, apparently just isn’t comprehensible to people who don’t get that all things are connected. Perhaps that is the isolate’s curse–an inability to connect.

Anyway, that’s not a problem Barack Hussein Obama has. He connects and, from all appearances, he delights in it.

“We, the people.” I have not counted how many times ‘we’ is used. ‘I’ shows up four times, twice in connection to the oath he took, and twice as the partner of ‘you,’ the citizens.

Democrats have hailed the “We, the people” inaugural as “progressive.” If we are progressing, it’s towards what Lincoln aspired to in the Gettysburg address: government BY the people. That’s the radical notion. Radical, because it is based on the assumption of self-government, self-direction; that humans are able to direct themselves and don’t have to rely on others telling them what to do. And there’s the rub. Because, if humans are able to direct themselves, then there’s no need or excuse for others to give them orders and, the scary part, any mistakes they make are their own.

That’s the hook. Obedience to directives from higher up and subordination of the self means never having to acknowledge mistakes. It isn’t love that means never having to say you’re sorry; it’s obedience. Everything is forgiven, if one just obeys. Or, as Breitbart said, “behave!” Of course, if everything is forgiven, there’s nothing that can’t be done; no restraint. Presumably, that’s what appeals to the reckless maverick in John McCain.

In my initial critique of Barack Obama in February of 2007, I was inclined to ask the question:

Sir, considering that the invasion of Iraq was illegal and unjustified, what is the moral basis for the benchmarks you have specified in your plan for Iraq and that you expect the Iraqi government to meet before the American forces leave?

I didn’t ask it, nor the follow up:

“Isn’t that sort of like a bank robber holding the bank manager hostage until his confederates have secured the loot in the get-away-carĀ?”

As it turned out, the benchmarks evaporated in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) George W. Bush was compelled to sign, promising a time certain for the U.S. to withdraw and, at his first opportunity, President Obama, in a speech in Cairo, Egypt, abjured the intent to leave U.S. military bases in Iraq, a clear signal, from where I sit, that government by the people is a universal aspiration, not just an exception for the United States.