Obama’s Inauguration – Inspiration

Wow – the day has come!  President Obama.  Yes, President Obama. Wow.  Nearly 2 million people filling the National Mall.   An inspiring speech. I don’t know if there’s much more to say.

Even though I want to stay cynical and I know we’re going to have to work on him for some issues, he represents such change, especially after the nightmare of the last 8 years.  I don’t think it was a coincidence that Bruce Springsteen performed The Rising at the Lincoln Memorial concert for Obama.  A song about surviving and rebuilding after the September 11 attacks now referring to another disaster – Bush’s Presidency.

I found this quote from David E. Sanger’s analysis of Obama’s speech in the New York Times hilarious:

Yet not since 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a “restoration” of American ethics and “action, and action now” as Herbert Hoover sat and seethed, has a new president so publicly rejected the essence of his predecessor’s path.

Well, do you have to say anything more?  Yet, it really isn’t funny, because among the other disasters, Bush has left the economy a mess, with many out of work, and many of us on shaky ground. 

President Obama has a lot to deal with.  I don’t expect miracles, but yet it is incredible to be feeling this much hope again.  To be this proud of being an American again.

Amnesty International made a very funny video (on a serious issue) poking fun at our expectations of Obama, while calling for the closure of Guantanamo, ending of torture, and accountability for abuses committed in the “war on terror” by the Bush administration.

It’s part of AI’s 100 Day’s Campaign, calling for President Obama’s administration, within the first 100 days to:

  • announce a plan and date to close Guantanamo;
  • issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law;
  • ensure that an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the U.S. government in its “war on terror” is set up.

To sign the petition and for more information go to:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/100days

or

http://obama100days.amnesty.org/

I am very hopeful about the first two items.  President Obama has said he will close Guantanamo and end torture.  Incoming Attorney General Eric Holder has stated unequivocally that waterboarding is torture.  I think we may have to push a bit on the accountability issue, though.  Democrats tend not to want to make waves.

I was particularly encouraged when President Obama spoke out about the false choice between security and human rights in his Inaugural Address:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that 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 we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

I really do believe President Obama has values we can believe in.  Even while I don’t kid myself and I know we will have to keep mobilizing and pushing him on the issues.  I remember past Democratic administrations.  What is especially encouraging, is the citizens movement he created and empowered by showing us “Yes, we can!”  is going to keep moving forward and pushing him to stand up for those ideals.

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