Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Speech

Big on humility. Big on resolve. Big on rebuilding America's image home and abroad. Lots of big things. I hope we can deliver.

A few excerpts, what I like:

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.

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.

It's a little Sinclair Lewis/Gottliebesque, challenging Americans to believe that hard work is the means to the good end, not leaving the hard work to others.

Then this:

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. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Very FDR-esque, bringing up echoes of the Works Progress Administration. What's wrong with a little infrastructure? Well, Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" answers that question. Let's hope this is sensible infrastructure we're talking about, not infrastructure for infrastructure's sake. And education. Wow. This is what we need. But what are we going to do to get people to take advantage of educational opportunities in a society where we seem to be growing more towards Neal Stephenson's gloomy ideal that we're all content providers, not builders? But enough nattering about that. Education. Infrastructure. A new incarnation of the WPA. Which all ties in with this:

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

This nation has done a lot, taken on ambitious projects that at the time seemes too large to accomplish -- Settling of the West, building interstates, the Manhattan Project, the Apollo moon landings. We can do big things. Phooey to those who say we can't, nor no longer can.

And this:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Thank you, thank you. I'm always bothered when, for one good, another good has to be tossed aside.

And finally this, to cynics on the left as well as to cynics on the right:

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Whether it works. What a novel concept.

I hope all this can come about. I hope I can find a way to help. First I'll help by stopping this entry and getting back to work, writing and editing procedures like I've never written nor edited before.

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