Thursday, January 22, 2009


In reaction to the Obama inaugural address, Foreign Policy's Christian Brose harrumphs:

... I've already detailed my mixed feelings, but the one thing in particular about the speech that I felt was most unfortunate, which left me sadder than I am angry, was the somewhat divisive tone it had at times. Here's what I wrote after the speech:

Other wording, however, struck me as almost divisive. By saying "there are some who question the scale of our ambitions" or "what the cynics fail to understand," Obama drew lines –- those who get it and those who don’t –- when some minor editing could have bridged differences. He spoke of the economic crisis as "a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some" –- undoubtedly true, but also somewhat too accusatory for an Inaugural. So too with, "We will restore science to its rightful place." Point taken. But why not "affirm" science or "promote" it, something positive; "restore" just has a chiding quality to it that seems out of place in a speech like this. And as for choosing as his one quote from Scripture the oft-heard “the time has come to set aside childish things” -– well, this seemed both to remind me of a wedding while also unfairly branding people of good faith, on both sides of the aisle, as somehow infantile. Phrases and words like these sadly seemed better fit for a campaign than today’s special occasion.

Whatever you think about George W. Bush, and my thoughts on him too are decidedly mixed, taking shots at the other guy, veiled or overt, consciously or not, on such an historic day, just seems like bad manners to me....

It's true -- gauntlets (gantlets?) were thrown down in the Obama address. That was too much for some.

I suppose everyone would have been much happier with subtle shiv-slipping like the kind we heard in Bush's first inaugural address:

America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected....

Our public interest depends on private character....

Not to mention

We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge....


America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.

-- which, judging from the fact that as late as last month Bush was still blaming the acrimony of the past eight years on the 2000 post-election battle over Florida, sure seems to me like a shot at Al Gore and those who challenged the Florida results ... although this, like the other lines I've quoted, is ambiguous enough to elicit a "Who, me?" if you asked Bush or his speechwriters if it was intended as a dig at the Democrats.

Yeah, sideswipes with deniability. It would have much better if Obama had gone that route.

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