With a host of near 2 million
gathered on the Mall to see him sworn in, Barack Obama
delivered an inaugural that was the antithesis of a
rallying cry for the
faithful assembled below.
Rather, it was an admonition, a
warning to the American people of the gravity of our
condition, and an invitation of inclusion to that part
of the nation that remains wary of Barack Obama.
Yes, there were reminders that he
is our first African-American president. But this speech
was not about the novelty of his race. It was about
placing this 44th president in the tradition of all who
have gone before—Washington,
Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and—Ronald
A first sign this was not to be
another windy progressive spiel came with his statement
that our crisis is due not just to the
irresponsibility" of some, but to our own
failure to make hard choices."
All of us are at fault, Obama was
saying, in what became a stern and severe sermon to the
"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. …
In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set
aside childish things."
St. Paul in First Corinthians, Obama cast himself in
the role of one who speaks with authority, to demand of
those he leads that they cease to act as children.
our greatness as a nation," we must remember who and
what made us great. It was not those who
over work"; rather, it was
"the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things."
Pardon me, but this is
This was startling. Mythologizing
Khe Sanh, where the Marines held out against
thousands of North Vietnamese in the
bloodiest days of Vietnam, Obama was associating
himself with the part of America
that holds with Reagan that Vietnam was a
not the "dirty
immoral war" of the left`s propaganda.
Obama seemed to be severing himself
from Sen. McGovern, who diabolized the war, from John
Kerry, who came home from Vietnam to say Americans were
acting like war criminals, and from Jimmy Carter, who in
1976 called Vietnam a
Was President Obama saying the
right was right? Perhaps not. But he was saying that the
Marines at Khe Sanh and all of those who fought and died
in Vietnam are to be honored alongside the
men who stormed the bluffs at Pointe du Hoc.
alone," said Obama,
us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please."
power grows through its prudent use." While a
repudiation of neoconservatism, these ideas are fully
consistent with the traditional conservatism of the
Proceeding on to the wars in which
we are now engaged, the new president declared,
responsibly to leave Iraq to its people and forge a
hard-earned peace in Afghanistan."
peace in Afghanistan" echoes Ike on Korea, 1953.
And, "leave Iraq
to its people" sounds like Nixon seeking
honor" as he brought the 525,000 American soldiers
To implacable enemies like
al-Qaida, Obama declared,
outlast us, and we will defeat you." But to
authoritarian and dictatorial regimes with which we are
not at war, he offered,
"We will extend a
hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
This is not Winston Churchill`s
"victory at all costs!" nor JFK`s
"we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any
friend, oppose any foe … ." Nor is it George W.
Bush`s Second Inaugural
in our world." It is rather the sober statement of a
president who understands that his country, great as she
is, is overextended and there needs to be a retreat from
"As much as
government can do and must do, it is ultimately the
faith and determination of the American people upon
which the nation relies," said Obama, as he began to
recite the values on which America depends,
"honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity,
loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. These thing
are true. … What is demanded … is a return to these
truths." Again, Reagan comes to mind.
"What is required
of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition
on the part of every American that we have duties … ."
None of this is to suggest the new
president is some born-again conservative; and
there is much in his speech to argue he is not.
But this inaugural was the work of
a mature and serious man who knows his county is in deep
water, who seems to understand what got us there and who
appreciates that, on some things, the right has indeed
been right from the beginning.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to VDARE.COM readers;
his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its
Empire and the West Lost the World,
Paul Craig Roberts.