Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Nation

I've just turned off the obnoxious David Brooks on NPR, who derided "the cold spine" of our President's inaugural speech earlier today. For some reason Brooks, whose writing I often respect, didn't seem to realize that Obama's reference to "childish" things was an allusion to St. Paul in 1 Corinthians (13:11), which, for my literary money, is one of the greatest few lines about spiritual maturity ever penned:

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things."

So Brooks missed one of the most telling parts of Obama's graciously crafted speech: It's time to grow up, or as he put it,

"we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America."

But this is not a criticism of David Brooks, it's for those who might have missed what our president didn't say. He wasn't interested in criticizing the lack of inclusion in Rev. Warren's constricted invocation.

Out president is seeking healing and genuine partnership, calling out to our friends and enemies alike, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian. Unlike the "Decider" who thankfully did the nation an enormous favor by removing himself to Texas and becoming one of the ugliest footnotes in American history, our new president extols the "promise of citizenship."

While I was somewhat disappointed that our president didn't call for specific sacrifices -- we are willing to work with him -- it's abundantly clear that what lies ahead is akin to crossing the frozen Delaware River in the middle of winter with a ragtag army. The battles that need to be fought include:

* Wall Street must shrink down to size and its minions policed.
* Foreclosures must stop now.
* Banks need to start lending again.
* People need work.
* National healthcare is not just a pipe dream. It's a necessity in the global economy.
* Climate change is a killer that the international community needs to halt.

We need a leader who believes in change and is willing to transact it.

And then there's that "great gift of freedom" that needs to be "delivered safely to future generations." We can do that if we're broke, hungry, out of work and despairing. As FDR noted during the height of the Depression, one of our freedoms should be "freedom from want."

There's no time for "petty grievances" in Obama's America. No time to avoid "the collective failure to make hard choices." It's reckoning time and Obama says he's ready for the tough work ahead. I believe him. I hope that others have his faith and confidence.

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