The Obama Factor

April 1st, 2009
by George S. Crimmin

[private] v7-4-Speaking OutFreelance columnist Kenneth J. Moynihan recently published high praise for President Barack Obama’s inaugural address, associating him with great orators of the past. Mr. Moynihan wrote; “Abraham Lincoln had a great talent for combining images and values of the American Revolution with the culture of the bible, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was at least as adept in that same art.” I would argue that newly elected President Obama is well on his way to joining these two oratory giants.

In his inaugural address President Obama described critical problems facing the United States in a primarily moral tone. While some portions of this speech were probably uncomfortable for former president George W. Bush, the rest of the nation and the world were intrigued. President Obama made a call to civic virtue, and for all Americans to acknowledge their moral responsibilities to their communities at home and abroad. He also drew upon the common beliefs of his ancestors. “The economy is weak because of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but in part due to the national collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.” He might well have been talking about Honduras.

The President also cited scripture in support of his assertion that “the time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit”, and he reached back to the revolutionary era to reaffirm natural equality and the rights of freedom and opportunity. The nation’s historical journey, he said, was not led by people who preferred leisure and fortune to hard work. Instead the real achievers have been “the risk takers, the doers, and the makers of things”.

Are we sure he wasn’t talking about the Bay Islands? There was a time not too long ago when we were doers and makers of things. We once supplied the mainland, but now it’s the other way around. Some of you may still remember those days. Now we basically import everything.

President Obama argued that putting together “the data and statistics” could explain some of what’s wrong, but that the nation had also experienced a “sapping of confidence, a nagging fear that future generations must lower their sights”. The challenges could by met, he said, “by choosing to be hopeful and unified in purpose”. Again he appeared to be referring to us.

President Obama credited his ancestors with “settling the West, working in sweatshops, fighting the nation’s wars, enduring the lash of the whip and plowing the hard land”. They did all this, he said, that we might have a better life. Our ancestors battled the elements and the world’s oceans; they endured years of separation from their families so that we could have a better life. Yet to this day we do not have a day set aside to honor their sacrifice and contributions in building and maintaining these islands for generations. What a shame! They deserve our utmost respect and admiration.

On foreign policy President Obama-without mentioning his predecessor directly-suggested higher moral standards. “Being a great power does not entitle us to do as we please”, he said, and called for humility and restraint in dealing with foreign nations. To enemies of the U.S. he had a chilling warning: “make no mistake about it, we will grind you down, and we will defeat you”. He pledged to help poor nations develop, and told the richer countries that “we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders”. With the whole world watching, Obama took a stand. If today seems a little bit brighter than yesterday, credit the Obama factor. [/private]

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