Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Than A Kick in the Pants

Over the past couple of days, any number of times I have been annoyed to have commentators claim that the new president's inaugural address was all about the former cretin in chief. There is a lot of damage, but the repairs, not the recriminations, appeared to be the subject of all that I heard.

Last night I was wondering if everyone heard David Gregory declare that Obama's statement yesterday - that we were going to bring the U.S. back into power - 'was aimed straight at' the cretin no longer in chief.

Tom Brokaw this morning on his report said 'those were frontal attacks on presidential policies of the last four years' of the late unlamented occupant of the White House.

Dan Froomkin gives a number of cites from analyses that make the same claim, and even seems to think for himself that the inaugural was mainly directed toward the maladministration; I don't think so.

Obama, for his part, pulled no punches in his Inaugural Address, casting his presidency as a restorative to Bush's.

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America," Obama said.

Though he did not blame the smallness of our politics solely on his immediate predecessor, the message was clear: To Obama, the central meaning of the day was that it represented the long overdue end of an era to which Bush was the capstone.
Maureen Dowd writes in her New York Times opinion column: "After thanking President Bush 'for his service to our nation,' Mr. Obama executed a high-level version of Stephen Colbert's share-the-stage smackdown of W. at the White House correspondents' dinner in 2006.
George Packer blogs for the New Yorker: "The speech was, among other things, and in spite of the gracious gesture at its opening, a devastating repudiation of ex-President Bush, who seemed to be shrinking physically as well as historically whenever the camera found him, until, by the end, his unimportance was almost bewildering. Now he is gone."

At least one commentator who gets paid for his opinion pieces says what I insist, it was not about the past mistakes, it is about the public he is there for, and that chose him. David Marimiss is cited by Froomkin writing in WaPo:

"But more than that, it was about everyone out there in the crowds that stretched from the west side of the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial: every person with an individual story, a set of meanings and reference points for a moment that many thought would never happen in their lifetimes."

Just as he inveighed against the childishness we've been through, President Obama projected a message that went beyond recommitment to ideals that the past eight years trampled and cast aside. The message is about us, about the way forward and beyond the mire of all too recent a past.

The beginning of this new administration is casting a shadow because it has a lot to offer, not because it wants to wallow in the rotten smell of the past. We need to prosecute, in whatever manner, the crimes. We have a lot to do, a lot to offer, in redeeming a damaged economy, a neglected infrastructure, a rotted support system and functioning educational institutions.

The intention of this new president is not so simple as showing up the failures just past. The public interest has been despised, and now it is in the forefront. Without serving the public, President Obama would not be fulfilling his oath - however the Supremest mangled its form. The presidency is about the country's need for service, and I am looking forward to having a president worthy of the office, and the name of President.

We have done the casting off part, and the war criminals are out of the White House. Now we need to rout them in the rest of the executive branch, and do the work they've obstructed for all too long.


Of course, it hasn't been all bad. Also from Froomkin:
Jon Stewart notes the end of an era. "The last eight years have been -- gosh -- just -- well, great for this show."

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