Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Direction

Just some ramblings on my reaction to today's inauguration...

-YES!! First of all, the end of the previous error could not have come soon enough. Obama's intelligence, willingness to entertain a diversity of opinions and ideas, and political pragmatism will be a welcome departure from the idiocy of the last 8 years. I don't know if Obama can undo the damage of the reckless policies (foreign and domestic) of the last 8 years (and in many cases much longer), but at least we have a new direction that can't possibly be as self-destructive as the path we've been following.

-Obama clearly set the tone for a new approach to the economy...an approach that should be a departure from the free-wheeling market idolatry of the last three decades. While recognizing the tremendous power of markets to create wealth and prosperity, he also recognized the potential for self-destruction in unregulated, unchecked markets. (If I could buy President Obama a good beer for that, I would.)

-In the pointed barb department, the most memorable line from Obama's speech was when he rejected choosing between our principles and our safety. The intent was clearly a condemnation of the pro-torture policies of the previous administration. I'm glad he was clear on that (as clear as you can be at such a diplomatic moment while trying to be a bi-partisan leader). If we want to be recognized as a moral authority in the world once again, we must renounce these tactics. We can not defend freedom with the same deplorable tactics as those who oppose it.

-The call for sacrifice. I'm glad Obama repeatedly used imagery of hard work and sacrifice. I heard a Republican commentator criticize the speech for not being "upbeat" enough, and that it should leave people with a "spring in their step." BS. Now is not the time for happy-go-lucky-everything-will-be-taken-care-of sentimentality. For too long Americans have been fed the line that if we just pay less taxes and go shopping with the extra money then everything will be alright. The current financial situation is the inevitable result of such foolish policies. As we go through this financial mess, a process likely to take several years, people must be willing to help each other out, to show kindness and charity toward one another. And we must accept that taxes will have to rise to pay for the reckless spending of recent years.

I'm cautiously optimistic, and that's about as optimistic as I've been about the direction of our country in my entire adult life.



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