Published on TheHill.com on January 22, 2013
For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sanh.
— President Obama’s first inaugural address
…that all of us are created equal is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.
— Obama’s second inaugural address.
In Barack Obama’s first inaugural address, he spoke of America’s needs, goals and mission. In his second — like a pointillist painter — he decomposed our country into a series of atomized special interest groups and, one after the other, pleaded their case.
A comparison of his first and second inaugural speeches shows us how badly he fooled us the first time and what the reality of his second term will be like.
The style, poetry, eloquence, grace and uplifting rhetoric were all there both times, but this inaugural enumerated his real agenda.
In 2009, Obama’s agenda of class warfare was cloaked in gentle words. He observed that “our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some,” but added that it was also due to “our collective failure to make hard choices.” He gently noted that we “cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.”
But in his 2013 speech, the full force of class envy stood behind his rhetoric as he opined that “we do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few” (as if any of us did). And he emphasized that “we … understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it” (and why is it, again, that they can only barely make it?).
In 2009, he alluded only lightly to civil rights or race, referring in passing to “the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
But in 2013, he really laid it on. He recalled “that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skins” and that “through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union … could survive half-slave and half-free.” He movingly addressed “those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall … to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
OK, so he is the first black president and is certainly entitled to take his place in the pantheon of our civil rights heroes. But then he ticked off every interest group he could mention, saying that the work of “these pioneers” will not be complete “until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law” or until “we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity” or until “our wives, our mothers and our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.”
Leave anyone out?
Well, yes. The elderly. Blithely ignoring the looming bankruptcy of Social Security, he said that “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” Well, how about the generation that won’t have Social Security because Obama won’t agree to raise the retirement age and keeps trying to cut the payroll tax? And the generation that will be burdened by a national debt that will break $20 trillion before his term is over?
But future generations were not absent from this thinking. He said we must not “betray our children and future generations.” How? By lowering the debt? By balancing the budget? No, by responding to “the threat of climate change.”
This is the real Obama: Determined to balkanize our once-united nation into competing interest groups who bet quadrennially on elections to secure a place in the sun. He is only for some Americans.
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