Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | January 21, 2009

Cookie beat me to the punch, but since great minds think alike I’m going to add a few things.

h/t to cookie, her comments in teal, mine in red, harsh language alert

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled (since you know, talking about himself being a fulfilment of a prophecy by Lincoln, all the messianic signs are a great example of humility) by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation (and also letting me run the country a full month and a half before I actually took office today), as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath (actually, wouldn’t that be 43? I believe Grover Cleveland was elected twice, so much for him knowing about history). The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People YES WE CAN have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers (can I hear an “A-men!” How about a “Bull-shit!”), and true to our founding documents. Yes, we all know he used to be a Constitutional lawyer. But I must admit, I snorted rather unceremoniously when he swore in his oath to uphold the Constitution. Mostly because he couldn’t get through the oath without stumbling and stuttering everywhere…(well, the Constitution has been hijacked for the most part, don’t the founding documents intend limited government, but I could be wrong, I just highly doubt it)

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some (I wonder if he’s heard of Clinton? Because I’m pretty sure that the husband of his Secretary of State was the one that got us into this mess…), but also our collective (can you say socialism?) failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age (novus ordo saeculorum). Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered (and raising takes on them is going to help, right). Our health care is too costly (so let’s raise taxes to make it more affordable? What?); our schools fail too many (FALSE!! KIDS ARE STUPID and sometimes they DESERVE TO FAIL, (Amen Cookie, Amen, kids do deserve to fail if they don’t do their part)); and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable (and increasing taxes just might make that happen), and that the next generation must lower its sights. Who on earth thinks that we need to lower our sights?? (I thought we were supposed to aspire to be the best, since when do we lower our standards, oh wait…)

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real (no sh-t). They are serious and they are many (le duh). See Dick. See Dick and Jane. See Dick and Jane run themselves into a tree because they’re too busy listening to this drivel.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope (sorry, my hope is in Jesus, nor did I vote for you, so, no I didn’t) over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises (like the ones you’re going to be telling us), the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture (great, now he’s trying to bring God into it), the time has come to set aside childish things (get me a quote on what passage that is, That passage doesn’t ring a bell to me, did you go to the Nancy Pelosi Bible Institute or what?). 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 (not) God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. NOTE: All deserve the PURSUIT of happiness. WE DO NOT DESERVE HAPPINESS. And also, that wasn’t a GOD-given promise, that’s from the Declaration of Independence…

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given (duh). It must be earned (and then punished). Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less (raise taxes, and we’ll all attempt to fail). 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. Lately I’m starting to think that it sort of IS for those people. 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.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. And now I’m being a big old pussy and pulling them out of where they still need to be, because my bosses… oops, FRIENDS… told me to. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Um, kinda. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began (b.s). Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Except that it’s so much CHEAPER to transfer calls to India… Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking (because the ideals in the set in the Constiution weren’t good enough right?) America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action (since the government has done a great job with our money of course), bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs (great, useless employment…), 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.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans (suggest? it’s a fact). Their memories are short (no, they’re thinking with common sense). For they have forgotten what this country has already done (yes, without the government’s help); what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose (there’s that socialistic theme again), and necessity to courage.

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 (that is totally terrifying) (Well, if we actually read the Constiution, if the government doesn’t work, overthrow it and start anew, but we can’t do that, we’d be in jail wouldn’t we?…USSA here we come)– 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 (well if that’s the case…). I can’t wait to see THAT. Programs ENDING under a Democratic president? Excuse me, programs that AREN’T the military. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account (our money, that you in the government don’t know how to spend) – 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 (Actually, if the government actually followed a simple principle, don’t spend what you don’t have, maybe we might not be in such a big mess).

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill (The market doesn’t even have a chance to work…). Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye (endless regulation), the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous (Last time I checked, we have a right to pursue happiness. Some people are just not as good with resources as others, that’s just a fact of life, deal with it). The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity (but what you do with that opportunity is entirely different) to every willing heart (You have to want success) – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good (C. M pg 12). So now let’s force endless regulations on companies that actually make them even LESS productive and effective! Way to expand businesses and provide jobs that DON’T require a J.D.

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 (well, the Muslims want peace too, it’s just that their peace involves everyone converting to the cult known as Islam), and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with (but also 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.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people (We’re already doing that. Why he doesn’t understand that just baffles me. These things take TIME.), and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan (forget about that, that’s not happening unless all convert to Catholicism). With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet (great, someone else falling for the global warming b.s). We will not apologize for our way of life (that’s all he’s been DOING for the last year! “Citizen of the WORLD” ring a bell?), nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, [please note that, in delivery, there was a LONG pause between the first half of this sentence and what’s to follow… wonder why…] Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. Right, because there’s LOTS of that. And we have so much in common too! And they TOTALLY want that “new way forward,” all that “kill all infidels” stuff is just joking around. Riiiiiight.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. But judging means nothing if you’re going to crush any dissenters… To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent (kind of like the Obama Truth squad huh?), know that you are on the wrong side of history (so that makes you on the wrong side of history?); but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist (i’m not unclenching mine).

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. With whose money, again? Oh right, MINE. And I don’t get any say in it. Government-mandated charity. AWESOME. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it (hey, I thought we weren’t going to apologize for our way of life?, cf somewhere earlier in this, Waaaait, never mind, USSA, I forgot, spread the wealth around, and I have no say in it).

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. I think we can all ask Caveman exactly what he would like to tell us… but I don’t think Mr Obama wants to hear THOSE choice words…

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do (well, if by that you mean wasting my money) and must do (of course, since this practialy one trillion dollar debt is our fault), it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. That sounds great, but I think we have to be honest about who we are. I know I’M not going to lose my precious hours at work, which I desperately need to survive on, just because I feel bad for someone else in the office. Yes, it’s sad, but I’m currently on my second month of a pair of contacts that’s supposed to last 3 weeks, because I can’t afford to get my eyes checked and buy contacts on my meager salary. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new (eh, that can be debated). The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity (ironic, none of these qualities you’ve shown), loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world (us first, though, Mr Obama. You are the president of the UNITED STATES, not the U.S. and the rest of the world), duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. But he calls us to conform ourselves to His will – not to some lofty ideals of patriotism and courage. Our destiny is ultimately in HIS hands and we ought not take that away from him.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].” Yeah, but virtue is dying, and hope is utterly useless if virtue is dead.

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us (not for loooooooooong… we have Sodom and Gomorrah fixed in our gaze), we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Blaaahhhh. Lots of bullshit, delivered eloquently. (Amen)


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