Obama vows equality for all in inaugural address
President Barack Obama used all the rhetorical savvy he possessed to good use to affirm that his quest for liberty included the leveling down of inequality. In his second inaugural address he defined equality as the inalienable plank in the quest for justice.
The perhaps the most quoted part of the hard hitting address was when in one rhetorical flourish he tied the Declaration of Independence to the freedom fight of Martin Luther King Jr. and today’s generation of Americans: it is “our generation's task to make these words, these rights, these values – of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – real".
Obama pushed the idea further alluding to "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" of the Statute of Liberty, invoking "the poor, the sick, the marginalized" in society. He astutely tied the US constitution, Martin Luther King Jr. and protecting the middle class as fundamental to his beliefs. Many called the address a smash it.
Notice to detractors
Obama gave notice to his detractors that he was ready to take on the thorny issue of gay rights, global warming, middleclass rights and gun violence. On national television and before a crowd of nearly a million spectators who descended on the Washington Mall, Obama staunchly reiterated his belief that to be born equal signified that all including gay people should be counted as equal partners.
"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law–-for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said. He also mentioned the gay rights Stonewall Riots of the 1960s in the same breath as the Selma civil rights marches—both historical events that Americans would not forget.
Obama said to avoid the problem of climate change would "betray our children and future generations," ‘He signaled that he would make that issue a key piece of his second-term agenda. He had been criticised for abandoning efforts during his first term to push for so-called "cap and trade" legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Obama tired his appeal to the Middle class prosperity which figured prominently during the last election campaign. He argued that the nation's entitlement programs made America stronger because they protect this chance at equality.
"We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm," Obama said. "The commitments we make to each other–-through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security--these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."
No mention of Asia
The scant mention of foreign policy was somethimng that was disappointing to many. The situation in Mali and Algeria which grabbed the headlines during the last then days did not get any mention. Neither did any reference to the growing influence of China, India and the Asian economies.
Obama was obsessed with the impending tug-of-war with the Congress on debt reduction. In the 2,095-word speech that covered almost all domestic issues fairly well he injected a sense of urgency into creating leveling playing field for all. He repeated that the march towards greater equality in the country cannot succeed if a "shrinking few" succeed economically while the middle class suffers.
Obama challenged critics who have argued that the government must reduce its spending and cut back on social welfare programs, including Obama's health care reform law. Obama said that the country must reduce its deficit, but that the nation must work to protect equality of opportunity, in what seemed to be a reference to his battles with congressional Republicans over taxing and spending.
"We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own," he said.
There were a record number of lavish Balls in the capital and President and the First Lady made their presence felt in several of them. The one organized by the military community had over 30,000 in attendance.
- Asian Tribune -