Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Speech

Outside of the penchant all politicians have for talking too long, the speech did not disappoint. I refer, of course, to the Inauguration Address made by President Obama. My favorite part came toward the end when he talked about the icy blasts and storms that may lie ahead. One thing seems certain - there will be change. The country will be on a different path than the one we've been on the past eight years.
I don't think it will go down as one of the best Inauguration Addresses ever given, but it sent a clear message that we've got to change the way we do business with the rest of the world, the way we use our power, and the way we do business here at home. I think he was pretty clear that the immediate challenges are daunting, but the constant theme of "hope" that permeated his campaign was clear in the speech as well - we're up to the challenge, and we've handled challenges like this before, as Americans.
For a boy who grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, and whose first encounter with black people was at a visit to Milwaukee, it was truly moving to see a black man standing in the sunlight in front of the Capitol addressing the huge throngs that had gathered on the National Mall. My high school graduating class consisted of 88 people, and every face was white. Every teacher was white. Everyone who lived in the village was white. I didn't really know any black people until I got to college, and in the mid-60's there were precious few black faces on campus.
We've come a long way as a nation to elect a man of color to our highest office, and his speech made it clear that there's a long, tough road ahead. President Obama is intelligent, dynamic, and comes to the office with a mandate for change. He's shown tremendous ability to build diverse coalitions to get things done. He'll need vision and courage to end "business as usual" in Washington and push the nation forward. I think he's up to the challenge. Godspeed, President Barack Obama.

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