A strong speech by the president. What did you think?
Than its most powerful nation.
A characteristically Obama combination of idealism justified by pragmatism.
The beggining of the speech was typical of an average Obama speech, but I thought the middle and ends of the speech were powerful in laying out a decidedly progressive agenda on climate change, gay rights, gun control, immigration, and he was quite forceful that there will be entitlement reform but not at the expense of the promises of social security and medicare. A very strong argument for liberal government and one we have not heard at an inaugural in quite some time. It was short but every word and sentence counted. He also tied gay rights, women rights, and immigration reform to the civil rights movement and the founding-quite powerful, particularly on Martin Luther King Day.
Not the greatest speech of his presidency, but better than the Grant Park speech, the first inauguration, any state of the union, and his 2012 conventon and victory speeches. He also called upon us as citizens to be vigilant and have his back so that Congress does what its citizens want, and its now on us to make sure our victory in 2012 can achieve solid legislative and policy victories in the second term. He is asking for our help and we need to give it.
Shortly after the ceremony ended the President signed the communications nominating Kerry, Hagel, Lew, and Brennan to State, Defense, Treasury, and CIA respectively.
I really liked the “Our journey is not complete…” litany. Also, Chief Justice didn’t flub the oath this time – always a plus:)
I liked the lines (as I suspect you do as well Christopher) linking American exceptionalism with a form of manifest destiny where God endows us with the mission to make a more peaceful world, a more just world, a world where the poor and downtrodden are uplifted, and to take care of his creation. Very strong social gospel connections as I saw them, while simulatenously affirming the role science will play in affirming that faith.
We should definitely increase funding of poetry in school so that our poets understand how rhyme, verse, and meter work. This poet, and the one at the last inaugural, are far cries from Robert Frost. Its really shameful our poet laureates would not pass my 8th grade English teachers (admittedly high) standards.
I found it very moving.
I am a sucker for the lyric poets too, but there’s more to poetry than that.
it celebrates life, the simple elegance of it and how all of us together create the beauty of this country. Our diverse contributions create the whole. We all depend on each other, no matter whether we are rich or poor, black or white, blue collar or white collar, young or old, male or female. It doesn’t matter, we are an ecosystem and we all need the services we provide to each other. Not one of us is more important than the other.
I’ve often wondered why people have such trouble with classical music — and I think it’s not the presence of structure. It is the absence of familiar structure.
Nothing by Beethoven is accompanied by a drum set to tell you exactly where the beat is. Nothing in Schumann includes choruses repeated frequently to help you memorize the musical material. The theme in a theme and variations appears just once. There are no words in chamber music to tell you where you are in the “song”. And instead of just song form, where there are forms, there are multiple forms: sonata, rondo, scherzo and minuet, aria, saraband, allemand, French overture. In symphonies by Mahler, the ear that tries to decompose the sound into melody and accompaniment will get quickly lost — and bored.
All this is to say it’s easy to hate what your eighth grade teacher penalized, but that may be just as much a narrowing your aesthetic response as it is a preference for the sublime.
the fellow from Maine did a great job on the Inaugural Poem…the power of words to move us to tears and joy. <3
Organized in a terrible way. Lengthly, no mystery, no stanza construction, just a series of unconnected observations. Compare it to the power of Frosts “Gift Outright” at the JFK inaugural, or RFK quoting Aeschylus when he eulogized Dr. King or Teddy quoting Tennyson during his 80′ speech and there is no comparison. Angelou was a master of free verse, so the form is not terrible, just executed poorly hear. No lines stick out in my memory. I read the mans bio and respect his message and where he is coming from, he’d do himself a favor by just being a monologist and storyteller-another art that is dying and his voice would be fresh there. It’s clear that’s what his “poetry” wants to be.
to quote President Teddy Roosevelt, “It’s not the critic who counts…”
I understood the President quite clearly and his once lame seeming slogan of “forward” now made sense. While many inaugural speeches look backward to history an envision a simpler and nobler time (Obamas first speech was guilty of this trope)-he made it clear the freedoms of today were born with blood from the sword and lash and we have yet to build the most perfect union but his will include LGBT, immigrants, women, minorities, the poor and elderly and our planet. Pretty bold and pretty inspiring. As Van Jones out it the rainbow coalition is now a rainbow majority and one fueled by a righteous thirst for justice. That’s poetry we can all believe in.
all due respect, but have you never read Walt Whitman? Or Allen Ginsberg? The rhymes don’t necessarily make the poem.
Plus, no lines stick out in your memory?? Not the line about “the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever”? Half of America lost it on that line … sorry you were in the other half.
I watched the 2009 inauguration from a hotel room in San Francisco and was quite disappointed with the speech, which had way too much of his post-partisan fetish for me. I thought, well before then, such aspirations were naive. I strongly believed that the historical moment of 2008 called for a renewal of FDR-like activism, and re-regulation of the Wall Street casino that toppled our economy.
This speech was much more progressive, but with one major theme largely missing. It’s still the economy, stupid. It seems to me that gay rights, women’s rights, race relations, are all very important issues. But they are issues that the river of history has been carrying steadily forward already. Our economic structure, greatly leveled from 1932 to the 1970s, has gone backwards. This seems to me the fundamental challenge the progressive movement faces and I heard little about it yesterday.
I have read that Obama is not very knowledgeable about or interested in economics. His passion is for other issues. Woodrow Wilson famously said it would be a great irony of history if his administration to deal chiefly with foreign issues. Fate destined it so, and fate has handed Barack Obama a time when economic and budgetary issues are paramount. He must rise to the occasion. In that context, the speech seemed to me too much 1990s-style identity politics.
Actually I agree with the Guardian and Atlantic that the line seemed out of place with the rest of the poem and was awkwardly introduces and dropped. I won’t bore you with my criticisms of Ginsberg or Whitman, suffice to say you do your cause no favor with me bringing them up. Frost’s simple melodies at JFKs inaugural, said from memory since the pork he composed for the occasion blew away, were quite powerful. Who can forget Robert Kennedy quoting Aeschylus or Teddy and Tennyson? It’s a dying art form and I’m glad my middle school teachers forced us to read and write poetry which is too often ignored in our schools now.
As for Fenway I’d argue he made his most forceful defense of the safety net yet and articulated a bold economic vision. The President wisely linked the founders, civil war, civil rights with the New Deal and economic as well as social justice. He said we are not a nation of makers and takers but a nation that helps its elderly and poor. I think social issues are linked with economic ones and progress on both fronts is essential to completing the pyramid and making this a more perfect union.
LOL Suffice it to say that I really don’t care. If you don’t think Whitman and Ginsberg are great American poets … well, let’s just say you’re in the distinct minority.
during the campaign that we must protect Social Security, etc. But then during each negotiation he offers chained CPI or something worse. In any event, I see maintaining S.S., Medicare, Medicaid as the bare minimum. What I’m really talking about is changing the whole conversation the way Reagan did in 1980. If ever there was a moment demanding that, 2008 was it, second only to 1929. I think it’s pretty clear that hasn’t happened and, to me, that is the biggest failure of the first term. And this speech didn’t really strike me as making that kind of statement.
Some of the discussion of promoting opportunity, like “reforming education,” struck me as likely to mean the same neoliberal crap we’ve been hearing for 20 years. Michelle Rhee solutions, testing and charters and vouchers and teachers fired because they can’t undo their students’ upbringings in six months.
I think they are off the table now, I think he realizes he’s just going to get burn.
Schumer was saying just yesterday they’re still on the table as the Senate attempts to reach a budget, following this postponement of the debt ceiling issue until May.
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