Land of limitless opportunity

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21 January 2013



Barack Obama told the American people to “seize the moment” in a speech today at a public ceremony in Washington inaugurating his second term as 44th President of the United States.


After taking the oath of office, Obama set out his vision for the next four years, repeatedly declaring:  “Our journey is not complete.”


“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.


“A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless.


“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.


He called for “collective action” to preserve American freedom, which he linked to social and economic equality.


“We, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”


He defended costly programmes such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. “These things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us,” he said.


Without making specific policy recommendations, he said the US must overhaul the tax code, reform its education system, revamp the voting system and address climate change.


“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”


He also referred to his recently launched campaign to curb gun violence.


“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm,” he said, naming the town in Connecticut where 20 children were massacred in a shooting at a primary school last month.


As he was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts,  Obama placed his left hand on Bibles owned by American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr (1929-1968) and President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865).


The public inauguration ceremony followed Obama’s formal inauguration at the White House yesterday in accordance with the requirement of the US Constitution that presidential terms begin on 20 January.





And who could disagree with that?


However, fine words butter no parsnips.


Obama is a past master at invoking fine-sounding principles decked out with rhetorical flourishes.


The fact is we have heard much of this before.


Obama’s first four years as US president were ushered in with a similar enunciation of high moral goals.


The reality, however, fell far short.


As we have repeatedly said, Antigone1984 has a simple rule-of-thumb for assessing politicians: ignore what they say and judge them by what they do.


Technical note: our summary of Obama’s inaugural speech is based on a BBC website report today from Washington.

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