Mason Speaks

Inaugural Treasure

Despite flubbing a bit on the Presidential Oath, Barack Obama came back as his speech replicated the spirit of MLK Jr.’s “I Have A Dream.”

By Matt Todd

As our 44th president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, like another African-American hero Martin Luther King Jr., has a dream for America.  Despite the slight slip-up in which Barack Obama forgot a line in the “Presidential Oath,” which likely conservative media will crack jokes and make a big deal out of, no surprise, his speech proceeding that made the kind of impression Martin Luther King Jr. made when he gave his famous speech in Washington D.C. August 28, 1963.  The speech was given exactly on the opposite side at the Lincoln Memorial to more than 250,000 civil rights supporters.

Barack Obama delivered the lines so intensely, without a single moment of hesitation, and really spoke effectively much like he has throughout the bulk of his campaign.  Viewers and attendees shed tears; many nodded their heads in concord; and in the end, the applause roared and the U.S. flags waved by the thousands harmoniously.  Here are my takes on several key moments in the 18-minute long speech.

Thanking President Bush and current conditions

“I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.” 

Obama’s sportsmanship has been tremendous throughout the campaign and throughout the election.  The transition has been smooth with the media, even the conservative media, being a little kinder and gentler during this process.

On the other hand, while thanking President Bush, I could not help but feel Obama was taking a few jabs at him later on when he talked about the current state of the country.

“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, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

A subliminal verbal prod?  It is more than likely considering Barack Obama has been more outspoken about it through his campaign (and his Republican opponent John McCain as well who also criticized the Bush Administration), but it’s graceless to say at the Inauguration whom exactly as to blame these past four, ahem, I mean eight years.

Again though, we are reminded sadly how much the housing market has suffered, along with the job market, folding businesses, and so on.  President Obama looks to this day, this era, as a time of “change.”  Promising to stabilize the housing market, job market, health care, education, and etcetera, is a substantial promise to make, and even throughout his speech several expressions on people’s faces indicated slight fear, doubt, and wonderment.  Yet, it was only slight considering Obama’s delivery was more than confident.

Obama’s MLK Jr. moment

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. 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 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, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

The moment in Obama’s speech that reminded me emphatically of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech (in construction and the general mood), and the highlights of that speech as well were his, “On this day…” moments.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

Obama shed a great deal of light unto us and assured us at that point in his speech of the possible dream he has to straighten out the sloppy politics that snarled our economy and everything else since 2001, and the fact politically we’ve been divided.  A promise of unity, a promise to end the war in Iraq, and a promise to balance the unbalanced and put a stop to the corrupted politics that put the country in near shambles to begin with.  Much like MLK Jr.’s followers in 1963, Obama helped strengthen our faith.

Once again, “Hope” and “Change”

“We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. 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 America.”

Never forget Obama’s solid platform, one that brings change and revives the hopes of Americans.  His affirmation that we are still one of the world’s strongest nations really helped renew my conviction in the whole system.  Yet, count on Obama to assure everyone hope is not lost.

He speaks truth and knows it when he reminds us we are no less productive or inventive despite the economic crisis, our goods and services isn’t no longer necessitated, and we still have the greatest capabilities to bring back what was lost in the last eight years.  If anyone has fallen then it’s time to stand up, begin again, and make a comeback.

The lion in winter

“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.”

Not relating President Obama to the 1966 James Goldman play by any means.  Just the fact that his roaring presence could bring an end to our current state and bring us back to where we were pre-W.  Obama has made history in more ways than anyone could ever have imagined.  He’s aware of the present dilemmas and knows the challenges he’s up against as president, even more so, the first African-American president.

His messages of hope have always relayed exactly that.  It’s just whether if he’ll carry out the changes also accentuated later in those messages as well.  Can he do it?  Based on one of the most beautiful and compelling speeches ever given in history, it certainly seems as if he will try his best and for the most part succeed.

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