Like many things President Obama has done in his brief national career, his inaugural address must be digested in pieces. Those who claim, like the House Minority Whip, to have engaged with his words, his subtext, his implicit and explicit messages after having heard or seen them only once suffer from academic or intellectual hubris of the highest caliber. Having listened to it twice, it is only now beginning to sink in the depth of analysis, the choice of elocution, and the scope of the President’s vision and national ambitions.
Today, standing both inside and outside of the Newseum (a sprawling monolith standing at the corner of 6th and Pennsylvania in Washington, D.C. only a stone’s throw from the Capitol Building) I was amazed at how many of the phrases used by President Obama to give voice to our national character and potential were displayed nationally and internationally on the front pages. There was not one catchphrase, like Kennedy or Roosevelt. There were at least ten different phrases quoted. The first I included in the previous post, because it spoke to who we have been as a nation, and who we can be again. Here are some of the others:
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.”
“ On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear . . .”
“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
” . . . know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not on what you can destroy.”
” . . . we will extend a hand, if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
” . . . to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more.”
On November 4th, 2008, the citizens of the United States began cleaning house. We hired a new caretaker for our national honor, a new worker to handle our business, a new breath of freedom and integrity for our flagging national spirit.
On January 20th, the man we hired to do a mighty work spoke to us of the truth as he sees it, the reality as it has been shaped, and “what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.” He spoke of old and simple ideas that have been ignored and forgotten for too long.
There were many ideas, many plans, many places to put our collective shoulder to the wheel that turns through history.
All we need to do is listen.