Most great and memorable inaugural addresses are imbued with a spirit of charity and magnanimity. There is a clear sense that the president is speaking not for one political party or faction, but rather for the nation as a whole.
Thus in his first inaugural address, Jefferson declared, “We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists.” In his second inaugural address, Lincoln, likewise, spoke of “bind[ing] up the nation’s wounds” And Reagan urged us to “work and act together, not as members of political parties, but as Americans.”
But Jefferson, Lincoln, and Reagan were great presidents and publicly spirited men who spoke timeless and eternal truths. Barack Obama, however, is not a great president, and he is not especially large of spirit. He’s just a reflexive and dogmatic liberal.
Thus far from speaking timeless and eternal truths, he instead speaks the hackneyed liberal gospel as taught to him by the academic clerisy at Columbia and Harvard.
Indeed, Obama’s second inaugural address was a liberal wet dream: It pressed all of the Left’s erogenous zones:
• Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? Obama vowed not to change or reform them — even though they are driving us toward financial insolvency, and even though they provide workers with a relatively lousy return on their investment.
• “Climate change”? It is real, and it must be addressed — now!
• “Sustainable (read: green) energy”? “America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it” — now!
• Women? They suffer wage discrimination, which must be addressed by new governmental action — now!
• Gays? They are the new blacks; and their relationships must be given the same legal status as heterosexual married couples. We mustn’t “discriminate” — children, families, and religious liberty be damned.
• Immigrants and illegal aliens? Hasta la vista, Yankee! Move over, whitey! There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Barack. And so, no longer will illegals be “expelled from our country.”
• Defense and foreign policy? “A decade of war is now ending,” insists Obama. Really? Has anyone asked al Qaeda?
We will “engage,” but not militarily, he adds. Instead, “we will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully.” Again, that’s a very nice sentiment, but does it correspond with the real world?
• Economic growth, which was of central importance in Reagan’s inaugural addresses, is nowhere to be found in Obama’s. The words and the phrase simply doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. Economic growth, instead, is taken for granted.
“Economic recovery has begun,” Obama declares, without offering any ideas whatsoever for how to sustain and promote economic growth.
And, through it all, there is a constant theme: It’s 1965 all over again, America! And, then as now, you have to fight for your rights! The path to salvation lies through governmental action and government-enforced “equality.”
By contrast, the great (rhetorical) presidents — Reagan and Kennedy, for instance — spoke of advancing the cause of liberty.
True, Lincoln spoke of equality, but he spoke of equality of opportunity, not equality of result. Yet, it is the latter and not the former that Obama and the Left push and agitate for.
In any case, it is clearly not 1965. Legal discrimination against blacks and women — and even, to a very significant extent, gays — has been eliminated. And to the extent that legal discrimination still exists, it is typically “reverse discrimination” against lower-middle-class white men and Bible-believing Christians. Yet, by pushing the gay agenda, gay “marriage,” and “affirmative action,” Obama and the left perpetuate this very same noxious reverse discrimination.
In short, Obama has little concern for liberty. And so, his inaugural address, while seductive to liberals, was a knee to the groin of conservatives.
Worse than that, it was a declaration of political war against the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Obama is saying, in effect: “I won, and I am determined to do it my way, come hell or high water. Deal with it, Republicans. There will be no compromise.”
In this way, Obama is the anti-Lincoln. Lincoln, of course, famously declared in his second inaugural address that America must move forward, “with malice toward none [and] charity toward all.”
Obama, by contrast, says that what’s necessary is “spite for the Right, and goodies for the Left.” Or, to twist the words of another great conservative Republican president, Ronald Reagan: “It’s mourning in America.”