Even the big speeches like President Obama’s second inaugural are petty and partisan in this age of diminished oratory, sighs Dana Milbank in his inauguration post-mortem today. Even during a literal civil war, Abraham Lincoln at least said he had malice for none and charity for all, despite still being in the process of killing Confederate Americans. Obama preached to the choir, possibly because mostly only his choir (Democrats) showed up to get rhetorically unified and stuff.
Well, in the 4000ish comments our readers append to Milbank’s column, mostly Obama’s choir shows up again, mostly to cheer him on for not particularly reaching out to the other side.
That any of these propositions — we need to embrace science rather than ignorance, that we need to stop demonizing an imaginary group of Americans as “takers,” and that we should not be in a state of “perpetual war” — is considered “partisan” means that we have reached a sad day in America. Wow. I thought these were uncontroversial to thinking people.
In terms of rhetorical flourish, I thought the speech was largely unexceptional. For sheer pith, though, it was unparalleled. In that way it was perfectly suited to the times and perfectly captured the pitch of Obama 2.0. He’s gone into this new beast-mode and it’s kinda fierce. Plus, for anyone looking for a moment or a line that has historical significance, you’ve this gem: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” BOOM!! (throws down mic and walks away from podium, arms raised)
Yes. Amen, Brother Silverman. The style of rhetoric has changed, because it signals the real change that has come. Finally, our President can speak as a progressive – openly and clearly.
He said everything I’ve been wanting him to say for too long. Perhaps we don’t even need rhetoric any more, and that is what Milbank is really bothered by. Majority rules, and now the majority has a voice. This is a different world now, and new kinds of inaugural speeches are in order.
What constrained him previously? He was always free to say what he believed. Does he not have beliefs? Can he not state them and persuade others as to the correctness of them?
Republicans spent the last four years questioning the President’s birth, his honesty, and his integrity. They overtly stated that their goal was not to further the needs of our country but rather to prevent a second term. They do next to nothing except obstruct for four years and do not have the decency to attend the Presidential inauguration — including past Presidents (something to be ashamed of). And the President did not reach out a hand to people who have repeatedly spit on it. Yes, the President should be ashamed for putting forward his vision without considering the feelings of the self-serving bigots who seem to hate women, Hispanics, African Americans, and the rest of the world. Where is the President’s inclusiveness? He should show support for the message of intolerance and obstruction. We should all be disappointed in our President. The central problem with this article is that our President is really considered your President in this context–that is the saddest part.
While to people who never sat in the choir, Obama’s unifying rhetoric was only ever empty words.
Obama [is a] BS slinger extraordinaire, and the public buys into it. After four years, one would think that people would finally realized Obama is all about campaigning and not seriously governing. He has proven to be a very weak and incompetent president who, unfortunately, we are saddled with for the next four years.
Good post Mr. Milbank. Another Obama credibility issue is that he evoked the concept of liberty, yet Obama continues to promote the concept that government should intervene to restrict liberty in the name of the “common good.”
Okay then! It’s Day 2 of Term 2 and PostScript finds not only that our president is only addressing his choir, but also that only the choir is interested and/or listening. Sounds like we’re all on the same page! At least we all agree about how non-united we are.