The Obama era begins

In President Barack Obama we have a new chief executive, a fresh cheerleader, a change agent, a commander-in-chief with different strategies and (as Bloomberg points out) a “banker-in-chief” for  an economy that has become much more interventionist.

Inauguration Day 2009 was, as previous ones have been, all pageantry and historical symbolism. But once again America achieved a peaceful transition of power to a new leader, with a different take on what the nation needs. I voted for the other guy – but wish our President well.

Observers note that Obama’s inaugural address seemed to lack that single memorable line (the only thing we have to fear is fear itselfask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country). You can read the text here, or hear talking heads discuss the speech here. Writing a speech for a million and a half people – and billions worldwide – must be horribly difficult. Inspiration is hard to manufacture. Investor presentations are way easy by comparison.

Obama seems to have eschewed poetry and passion to speak fairly bluntly about the gravity of our economic and geopolitical woes. I do think his ending is evocative – both sobering and encouraging:

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].”

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, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

After the parades and the balls, the President’s work begins. Everyone hopes he succeeds, because we all need the benefits of that success.


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