The Tea Party Report's Susie Sampson seeks out Republicans at the Obama inauguration, and finds they have some very strange ideas.
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President Obama's 2nd inaugural speech is one for the ages. Jonathan Alter asked via Twitter shortly after what lines from it will be engraved in granite one day.
My answer: "We, the people."
President Obama used the pronoun "we" 88 times in his speech. He spoke of climate change, of health care, of poverty, and of history, and did so in the context of our shared citizenship.
It was as much a call to citizenship as it was a call to unity. Two sections stand out for me. The first is his call to action:
That is our generation’s task -- to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.
I don't think he could have made clearer the need for Congress to stop obstructing and start acting. But he didn't limit that call to Congress alone. He concluded his speech with a clarion call for every citizen to engage, to act, and to fulfill their duties as citizens, too:
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time -- not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. (Applause.)
Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
There has been so much punditry about what the President has to do and say in his second term, but very little said devoted to what citizens do. This is a real failure on the part of the pundits, in my opinion. They leave viewers thinking that the work of government is something which should take place among elected officials with no real engagement by the citizens.
This is how we failed in 2010. There was a sense that we elected this gifted politician to office and then most people checked out. President Barack Obama has called for that to end, and end now. By tying his own oath of office to the military's oath of duty, the immigrant's oath upon being conferred citizenship, and our own pledge of allegiance which is said at everything from sporting events to elementary schools, he called for us all to look at it as more than mere words, but our own duty to participate in democracy and raise our voices.
I can't think of a better way for him to have begun his second term. It was a speech of unity and tolerance, but also one intended to remind everyone that citizenship carries responsibility with it. While I'm sure there are some exploding wingnut heads, I do think reasonable people should hear what he said for what it is: A reminder that it's not just about Barack Obama, but every one of us.
Even if you missed President Obama’s inaugural address yesterday, you know it had to be good, effective and frightening to Republicans judging from Fox News reactions. This morning, Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. and Steve Doocy tried to spin it by predicting that Obama's “hard-left manifesto” was so off base, it would lead to Democrats getting a "shellacking" in 2014.
Johnson, reportedly a Roger Ailes mouthpiece, concern trolled as a Democrat:
What we heard was a hard-left manifesto… It was not so much about populism as it was about pandering. And it was a very bizarre, disordered priority of what our national interests were. Where was the debt? Where was the deficit? Where was the unemployment? Where was the issue of poverty in America, which has increased under his watch? Where is the hopelessness? Where is the fear that so many Americans have that they’re gonna lose their house? Where are the solutions for those problems?
…Instead we got this catalogue of false premises, phantom arguments, in terms of civil rights, in terms of global warming, in terms of long lines at the polls? So if I’m voting for the president in this past election, and I’m a moderate Democrat and a centrist Democrat, as I am, and I hear this yesterday, I say, "Is this president in touch with the realities of America or is this more about saying, ‘My hand is on the President Lincoln and Martin Luther King’s bible. This stack of bibles I will make my statement about what I believe and look out on this millions of people, this throng and remember this forever.’" It’s not about remembering this forever, it’s about what we’re gonna do to make our country safe over the next four years... It was disconcerting to say the least.
Doocy played the role of GOP consoler:
I mean, he was very clear he was gonna push his very left agenda. But you know what? There are some on the right, Peter, who say that this could backfire on him because if you remember in 2009, he took office, he’s a Democrat. He had the White House, they had the Senate and the House as well. They pushed through the stimulus, they pushed through health care using the nuclear option and what happened in the midterms? The Democrats got shellacked!
Doocy sounded delighted as he said that last sentence.
Johnson continued playing the concern troll - who arrived at the same GOP-friendly prediction:
I believe that this sets up the president - unfortunately for our country – for a backlash. When people examine what he said and how he said it yesterday, they say, ‘Is this the country that we want going forward? Has he captured the Democratic party in a way that’s bad for our national interest? Or has he been captured by the leftist elements of the Democratic party in a way that’s bad for our national interests?’ This sets up a whole backlash that I don’t think we understand at this point.
Johnson concluded by saying, “We wish him well, obviously, he’s our president.”