by Louis Proyect
Comments on selections from Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
Thank you, thank you.
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
[Ariel Gonzalez wrote an article on Huffington Post about whether Obama should thank Bush or not. He concluded, "If Obama thanks this miserable incompetent, I won't be angry. I've decided not to criticize our new president for a year." Well, that's the reasons that ingrates like me and Dennis Perrin exist, I suppose.]
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
[Hard choices... Our health care is too costly... Guess what comes next. If you said "Medicare benefits reduction", you win the prize-you crafty extremist.]
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
[No thanks. I vote for conflict and discord, the more the merrier.]
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
[Worn out dogmas? Like this? "In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend."]
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
[Who ever wrote this gob of overblown, purple prose should be taken out and horsewhipped.]
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
[Yes, they wrote books about that. They are called Horatio Alger stories and they are bullshit. Bill Gates got where he is by being born into one of Seattle's richest families and by exploiting technology that had hitherto been common property.]
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
[You'll note the inclusion of Khe Sahn here, clearly an attempt to co-opt even further the right wing of the Republican Party. Poor Abe Lincoln would be rolling over in his grave to see Gettysburg and the imperialist nightmare of Vietnam linked together.]
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.
[Really? Today's NY Times reports on the meager infrastructure spending that we can expect from your administration:
When President-elect Barack Obama announced last month that he would revive the economy with the largest public works program since the dawn of the Interstate System of highways, advocates for the nation's long-neglected infrastructure were euphoric.
Some hoped that the time had finally come to bring high-speed rail to the United States, or to wean the nation from its dependence on foreign oil with new or transformed public transit systems, or to take bold action to solve the problems of rising populations and falling reservoir levels across the Southwest.
But those hopes are fading. As the details of the plan come into focus, big transformative building projects seem unlikely. And the plan does not begin to provide the kind of money that civil engineers believe is needed to bring the nation's aging bridges and water systems and roads and transit systems to a state of good repair.
Less than one-third of the $825 billion plan that was introduced Thursday in the House would go to infrastructure, and much of that would go to high-tech projects, rather than traditional concrete-and-steel building and repair work. The rest would go to tax cuts and aid to help states pay for health care and education. At a time when the American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that $1.6 trillion is needed to improve the nation's crumbling infrastructure, the proposal calls for spending $30 billion on roads and, to the consternation of transit advocates, only $10 billion on transit and rail.]
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
[What was the force of our example that convinced the people of Nicaragua to vote for the U.S. backed candidate in 1990? I always had the impression that killing peasants, burning their crops and bombing their tractors had more to do with the outcome than the writings of Thomas Jefferson. As far as "humility and restraint" are concerned, I would advise you to eliminate these words from your vocabulary after the spectacle of a 150 million dollar inauguration, which is 3 times what George W. Bush spent.]
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
[Inducing terror and slaughtering innocents? You wouldn't be referring to the Israeli Defense Force, would you? Oh, I see. You were referring to the filthy Hamas that was trying to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.]
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
[Well, now. Can we interpret this as a signal that Egypt will no longer be the beneficiary of 10 billion dollars a year in American aid? What's that you're saying? You only were speaking of the corruption of our enemies, not our friends. Gosh, I should have known better.]
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
[You have certainly picked the right person to carry out such a mission. Larry Summers was infamous for suggesting that the U.S. export its pollution to Africa since the desperate continent was likely to accept poisons for cash payments.]
[6 paragraphs of concluding blather was clipped.]