The swearing-in of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States is just around the corner. It’s an exciting time to be living in Washington, DC – even if we don’t dare leave our house to brave the swarm of people descending on the nation’s capital to watch the inauguration.
Even our not-quite-two-year-old daughter is catching Obama-fever. We haven’t gone out of our way to teach her anything about Obama, but she still has absorbed quite a bit (it helps that the city is absolutely SATURATED with Obama-related stuff). She now points to pictures of Obama and yells, “Oooooobama!!“
The expectations for Obama seem almost impossible to achieve at this point. In part, those expectations have been imposed on him by others. However, he has intentionally and carefully constructed an aura of historical greatness around himself (the whistlestop tour; the constant allusions to Abraham Lincoln; the one-liners like “we are the ones we have been waiting for”…) so no doubt at least part of the extreme expectations have been self-generated.
Barack Obama speaks a lot about change in tenor, about entering a “post-partisan” phase of American politics. He has even said that we need a new “declaration of independence” – independence from past bigotry and divisiveness. Assuming his desire for national unity is sincere, Obama does seem a bit Lincoln-esque, although the unity he seeks is far different from the unity Lincoln was trying to preserve. In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln expressed what he was willing to do – to sacrifice – for the sake of preserving a united nation:
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
Lincoln was willing to sacrifice a great deal in order to preserve something he knew to be important.Thus far, Barack Obama hasn’t had to lay anything on the line – to really make any sacrifice – in order to achieve the unity and change he seems to desire. Certainly, factions on both sides of the political spectrum are willing to make political war to maintain the status quo. I watch earnestly to see what sacrifices Obama will make in order to create a new post-partisan America.
Best wishes, President Obama. Though I disagree with many aspects of your stated policy goals, I join the rest of America to hope (yes, hope!) and pray that you can rise to the challenge. In the words of my daughter, “Ooooooobama!”
UPDATE: A COMMENT ON COMMENTS – Prior to commenting, please refer to T&S’ comment policy and the associated posts by Jim Faulconer. In particular, comments that are, or could be perceived as, racist have absolutely no place here. I expect the tone of the comments to reflect the positive tone established today by President Obama.
Well said, Sheldon. Love the video, too.
Btw- I set-up an open thread on M* where people can post their thoughts and impressions of President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.
My 2.5 year-old used to point to Barack Obama or Saddam Hussein on magazine covers and say “Daddy.” The other day, I pointed to a picture of Obama, asked who it was, and was shocked to hear her say “Brak Obama”. I had mentioned his name to her maybe one week before, and that’s it. Neither I nor my wife have any idea how she picked this up.
There is much to admire about Obama. I hope because of Obama’s example that blacks especially will be inspired to place more value on education, be responsible married parents, learn to speak good English, and to not use race as an excuse for failure. Indeed, I hope all races are motivated by Obama to achieve greater heights.
There is also much to admire about Lincoln, but I believe a great President would have brought the two sides together and prevented a tragic Civil War on his watch. I do recognize that there is honest disagreement on Lincoln. Hopefully Obama will have the vision and leadership to bring our nation closer together during these turbulant times, and I wish him well.
It has been more than 1 1/2 hours since the Inaugural Address, but I still find myself overwhelmed by the clarity of the message and the power of the delivery. Not one given to tears, I fought back my emotions during the entire presentation, as President Obama outlined a vision for America that was both grounded in the realities of our age and the potential of our triumph. It was both stunning and stirring.
Here’s hoping Obama can be a truly great president without resorting to Abraham-Lincoln-levels of violence to the U.S. Constitution.
To me, the most lasting image I will take away is the hundreds of thousands on the Capitol Mall, just to be a part of the experience. The fact that many are people of color, certainly more than their percentage of the population in general. If Obama’s presidency gives these folks a sense that they are more a part of the government and the political process, then that is a good thing, something that I think no other presidential candidate could have done.
I for one am hoping and praying that President Obama can deliver on the substance of his inaugural address. He seems to me to be someone who can engender confidence in him just through his words, and I am looking to see the actions that follow, so that I know that confidence is justified.
There is also much to admire about Lincoln, but I believe a great President would have brought the two sides together and prevented a tragic Civil War on his watch.
Wow. Just . . . wow.
“I hope because of Obama’s example that blacks especially will be inspired to place more value on education, be responsible married parents, learn to speak good English, and to not use race as an excuse for failure.”
…since racial prejudice is obviously no longer a problem in America.
Jim beat me to it, and was more eloquent than I could ever hope to be in response to this breathtaking line.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope that Mormons especially will be inspired to place more value on tolerance, learn to think before they type blog comments, and not use ignorance as an excuse for racism.
“I hope because of Obama’s example that blacks especially will be inspired to place more value on education, be responsible married parents, learn to speak good English, and to not use race as an excuse for failure.”
I hope that because of Obama’s example, that you and others will stop assuming that black americans do not place value on education, are not responsible married parents, cannot speak good english, and use race as an excuse for failure.
I’m embarrassed for you Scott.
Hopefully watching the swearing in will inspire future chief justices to place more value on proper recitation of short formula oaths.
Just to add one more outraged comment, it is my hope that Obama will inspire white folk to stop telling black folk what is best for them. And vice versa, really.
I’m embarrassed for all of you. Except Chief Justice Roberts, of course. He was clearly just trying to generate some interesting cases for himself down the road, when criminal defendants claim that President Obama isn’t really President because the oath wasn’t done right. Little does our Chief Justice realize that he’ll have to recuse himself. Fool!
Oh, and I’m very proud of those who have fought condescension with condescension.
Also, I must say that a truly great President would split atoms with his mind.
Me too. I had my email browser open during the inaugural and all the spam emails disappeared right at the end of the peroration! This never happened to me in any other inauguration, even Lincoln’s. Also I discovered a cure for male-pattern baldness in unicorns.
You wanna know how fast Obama works? An hour after the inauguration a BYU custodial employee knocked on my door and asked if I would like a recycling bin in my office!
So far my gas tank has been filled, my mortgage paid, and I have a fridge full of food…amazing! I can’t wait to see what is next!
As always, from you it hardly feels like condescension.
Thank you, my padowan. Someday your haut en bas will too be nonpareil.
I’d like to report, incidentally, that in the Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus, an impromptu crowd gathered around a big TV in the commons area to watch the inauguration. I didn’t know what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised with the students rose with the crowd on TV for the VPOTUS and POTUS oaths of office, and at several points interrupted Obama’s inauguration speech with enthusiastic applause. It was a heartening moment.
I’m embarrassed for you. I hope President Obama inspires you to credit your fellow Saints with elementary clapping skills.
Exceedingly witty commentary, Mr. Greenwood. If anybody knows about condescension, it is you. Sir.
Thanks, chum. And may I compliment you for using the tu quoque without a surfeit of subtlety?
I am proud to be an American today. God bless President Monson and President Obama! Let us pray for them. Let us work with renewed zeal to make our nation better. Let us be more humble and Christlike. Let us work to prepare for when our Savior Jesus Christ returns to the earth. No more political sniping. No more religious persecution. Feel His love! Embrace it and share it with others.
Tu quoque? Hardly, sir! In the future, I shall refrain from all sincere efforts to bolster your credibility on the subject of condescension.
Any insincere efforts to cushion my credibility will still be appreciated.
I hope because of Obama’s example that whites (and especially US LDS whites) especially will be inspired to place more value on education, be responsible married parents, learn to speak good English, and to not use race or minority religion status as an excuse for failure. Indeed, I hope all races and creeds (and nonbelievers) are motivated by Obama to achieve greater heights.
I also enjoyed Obama’s steps to include so many of his countrymen in the celebration. It is very appropriate, and I think we need it (and I am praising God that it went smoothly with so many people!). I thought his comments about the dark times we are in were rather overblown, and he seemed a bit self-important in casting the situation that way, and I worry that he will try to use an overblown notion of crisis to justify unreasonable policy measures. However, there were many very welcome and appropriate elements to his message, and I thought the event as a whole was a beautiful celebration of America and the things that make America great, including the conspicuously peaceful (so far) transfer of power, the invocation of our patchwork heritage, and the calls to lose ourselves in service.
On a serious note, inaugurals are part of our civic religion and pretty darn fun. Congratulations and welcome to President Obama. I thought the inaugural address would have been better without the hints of campaign rhetoric, but it rose above them.
Thanks for those observations. I like that the sitting president and the president-elect carpooled to the inauguration. To me, it was a nice visual reminder that we in the US regularly enjoy “conspicuously peaceful… transfer[s] of power.” These peaceful transfers of power are worthy of our pride, and worth preserving.
#10 – You may be interested in President Obama’s words on marriage & parenthood, education, and the black community:
“But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing – missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.
You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled – doubled – since we were children. We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”
“…we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one.
We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.”
“…As fathers and parents, we’ve got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That’s how we build that foundation.
We know that education is everything to our children’s future. We know that they will no longer just compete for good jobs with children from Indiana, but children from India and China and all over the world. We know the work and the studying and the level of education that requires.
You know, sometimes I’ll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!”
** 70% of black babies are born to unwed mothers. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_06.pdf, p.57, Table 18)
** 50% of blacks graduate from high school. (http://www.urban.org/publications/410936.html)
Since when did “graduate” slip the surly bonds of “from” and touch the face of complete illiteracy?
Adam, can you please respect your fellow blogger enough so that you don’t detract from her post for your own pleasure?
Have a little self-control, man.
What is your argument? If you are arguing that there are problems with American black culture, there are. However, I don’t see that as a reason to single them out for comment. There are problems with white culture, too, alongside Indian and Chinese culture. All cultures have reasons to improve themselves. It appears that the only reason for someone outside that culture to single it out is if they believe that they are in a position to adequately judge it, usually a position of some sort of superiority. Thus all the condescension above.
Allison and Steve, I am assuming you are white, because most Mormons who comment on blogs are white (at least, as far as I know). My question is: Would you feel comfortable making these observations directly to black folk (or black members of the church) instead of on an anonymous internet forum? Specifically, would the the implied tone that you have adopted, which seems to indicate that white folk have the right to criticize the behavior of some minority culture from a position of moral and cultural superiority, be an appropriate tone to take in a multi-racial discussion?
ug…my second question was addressed to Allison and Scott
wuwa, I believe that Sheldon is male.
My 4-year-old boy has recently become obsessed with these little plastic globe/transformer/magnetic toys called Bakugans. When he saw Barack Obama introduces as the new president, he exclaimed, “look, its Bakugana!”
Abraham Lincoln was elected president of a new Republican Party that had as its stated goal to limit the creation of new slave states. This threatened the relative national power of the slave states in the federal government, leading to secession that began before Lincoln took office. He was not in a good position to keep the nation together because it was his election that caused the slave states to decide that they were going to continue to become a smaller and weaker minority in the United States, and lose the power to protect slavery from an eventual anti-slavery majority.
Whatever the merits of fighting the Civil War to prevent secession, Lincoln’s choice had vast consequences in the 20th Century. If the principle of secession at will had been established, Utah and California and Oregon could have gone off on their own. There would have been no acquisition of Alaska or of Hawaii. The collection of former United States would not have been capable or motivated to free Europe from Nazi rule or beat back Japanese imperialism. And there would have been no nation standing up to the Soviet Union and freeing eastern Europe. Separate and apart from the transformation in views of Lincoln and Americans that led to the end of slavery in the US, Lincoln’s preservation of a united America was crucial to the preservation and spread of freedom around the world, including Britain, France, Japan, Germany and Russia.
Frankly, I can understand Obama’s desire to clothe himself in the legacy of Lincoln, but he has not demonstrated any kind of real achievement to deserve to wear the hat or coat of the Great Emancipator. Obama is an Affirmative Action president, who has acquired his position on the basis of hope for the future rather than demonstrated achievement. The enthusiasm he generates is precisely analogous to the votes David Archuletta got on American Idol. As remarkable as his election is, it is an achievement that is primarily for the benefit of one person: himself. We all wait to see if he can accomplish something of significance for the nation. The fact that he has appointed his senior cabinet from among the tried and true Democrats of yore indicates he is not really going to strike out in a new direction. At least he seems to have avoided the sexual adventurism of Clinton and the naggy condescension of Jimmy Carter.
“Obama is an Affirmative Action president,”
Seems like today would be a good day for people, even, say, people like Adam, and Raymond Swenson, to take make whatever effort it takes from them to be polite.
Every white male president who became president in a time when only white males could become presidents is an affirmative action president. In what sense can Obama be called an affirmative action president? Do you really mean to suggest that being black made it easier (as opposed to, I dunno, harder) to become president?
Some of the comments on this thread have been pretty disappointing.
I actually had the memorable opportunity to attend some of the inaugural events today and am still a little overwhelmed. A truly remarkable historical moment. I thought President Obama’s inaugural speech was pitch perfect, and I pray that he is able to successfully lead us through the tremendous challenges we currently face. I certainly don’t agree with him on all issues, but I’m not sure I’ve ever voted for a candidate with whom I do. Judging from Obama’s record, campaign, transition, cabinet appointments, and the tone he has thus far endeavored to set for his administration and how it deals with differing views, I must say I’m hopeful. I sense a significant amount of good will both internationally and at home (among both parties) to work together to forge solutions on a range of urgent issues. Clearly, as Sheldon points out, a high bar has been set for the Mr. Obama, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think he’s an extremely capable man, and, as I noted earlier, I pray he’s up to the challenge.
Okay, I have been censured at M* and FMH for this link. It is a little raw (in the beginning) but only for those who have never seen a PG-13 movie. Remember first of all that it isn’t really about Obama. Its about True Believers of any sort. I guarantee you that if you are a true believer you will be livid and you’ll demand that T&S censure me too. If you still have your sanity you’ll find it a very thoughtful post by a Finalist in the Weblogs Best Religious Blog category.
One more thing. The author calls sympathetic readers of his blog Racoons. He uses the word cOOnvision to refer to spiritual insight. I showed the blog to my wife who initially was startled by the word. It has absolutely no racist meanings. I have been reading the blog for a long time and I didn’t even notice it.
Great. Raging partisan blather. Thanks for that aloyiusmiller.
Moving on, Peggy Noonan has a great op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal about the Inaugural Address.
Adam, in #21.
I don’t know if you were trying to be funny, or snarky, or tongue-in-cheek, or what, but whatever the intention was, you really came across as a jerk in that comment.
Let’s get the Twilight fans back in here to see if we can raise the level of discourse.
I am judged by some to be: racist, ignorant, not thinking, an embarrassment, condescending, and my “tone” is bad. Thanks for not telling me to “go back to my bunker.” Okay, some of you disagree with me. No problem. However, what’s with all the rude comments? What happened to “agreeing to disagree” and respecting different points of view.
The T&S comment policy #1 states: “Comments are expected to reflect different points of view. Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person. No insults.”
It appears that for some my comments caused offense, and for this I am very sorry. It certainly wasn’t my intention.
The fact is that Obama is black, and this has been emphasized in the media. He is not Indian, or Chinese. He is indeed an inspiration to many people, but especially to his fellow blacks, who voted 95 percent for him over McCain. Allison in #32 states facts that cannot be ignored. Lack of high priority on education has been a huge problem for African Americans, as well as a very high rate of out of wedlock births. Whites certainly have problems in these areas also, but not nearly the degree that blacks have. I hope that Obama and his wife’s amazing example will be used as role models for many in the black community, and as I stated in #3, I hope ALL RACES are motivated by Obama to achieve greater heights.
Yes, John #34 I discussed this very issue with two of my black friends, and they both agree and have the same hope.
Raymond #37, thanks for your reasoned comments on Lincoln and the Civil War. You could very well be correct in your assumptions. Who knows for sure? It is an interesting discussion.
Raymond, while I don’t for an instant concede your premise, I’ll take affirmative action over legacy any day. Unfortunately, in NY we may be about to get another legacy Senator.
Just so that we are clear, you said to your two black friends, “I hope because of Obama’s example that blacks especially will be inspired to place more value on education, be responsible married parents, learn to speak good English, and to not use race as an excuse for failure.” You didn’t insert a some in there before the blacks, perhaps? Because otherwise you basically told your two black friends that you don’t think that they care about education, are responsible married parents, or know how to speak English well, and that you think they use race as an excuse for failure. The blanket generalization is the factor that most makes that remark seem racist, even if well intended.
The fact that anyone could see Obama as an Affirmative Action President neatly demonstrates the continued need for Affirmative Action, unfortunately.
Peggy Noonan wrote something great? When? 30 years ago? She is the most trivial lightweight in the WSJ. Talk about living in the past.
I have been censured at M* and FMH for this link.
Please do everybody a favor and consider going for the trifecta.
Miller, the fact that you think the content of that link is insightful says more about you than it does about the content itself. It obviously gives you joy to ride your little hobby horse around the bloggernacle, but we get it already, we really do.
More racism, this time from the black community. Apparently Scott has good company.
Racism is a world-wide problem. Every race has its racists who hate people of other races. Some racism is overt and much is hidden (but still very real in its effects).
That’s just the way it goes. I recognize it.
I still feel that white Americans complaining about racism is a little bit rich.
Whatever indignities and hurt feelings white people have experienced on occasion does not, in my opinion, really match up with the horrible oppression experienced by others, most particularly by blacks. Obviously, I’m speaking in broad, general terms. No doubt there are individuals from every group who have some terrible stories to tell.
[I am white]
For your future reference: apples are the red ones, oranges are the orange ones.
“It was inspiring to be an eyewitness to this peaceful, impressive transfer of power and the swearing-in of the first African-American president. We pray for President Barack Obama’s success in these challenging times and join in his expressions of hope and optimism.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
I am a little puzzled by Raymond’s assertion that Obama is an affirmative action president.
Raymond, are you saying that he would not have been admitted to Harvard if he were not half African-American, or to Columbia, or that he would not have been elected to be the only African American (or half African American) in the US Senate if there were not some sort of a quota requiring that 1% of the Senate be African American (or half African American)?
There may well have been some “affinity voting” among African American voters, who usually only vote 90-91% democratic, but this time voted 95-96% democratic. There is some evidence that there were probably a number of whites who did not vote for Obama because of his race.
For me personally, Obama’s mixed racial and cultural heritage, his having been raised in a single parent home (and therefore a role model for all who have been so raised), his reaching out and connection to many in the faith communities (Christian and otherwise), and the fact that his middle name may make it just a tad more difficult for Islamist radicals to claim that the US is the great Satan, are all pluses. But I would have voted for him anyway, because of his intelligence, his evenkeeled nature, his sense of humor and my perception that he is striving to be president of all Americans, not just the left wing of his party.
So much for saving the one-upsmanship until the mid-terms.
No amount of ressentiment is ever enough for some, apparently.
Actually, I’m impressed by reading the responses here. We know that Mormons are only slightly less monolithically Republican than African Americans are Democrat. And yet, in spite of some knee jerk reactions, most people here seem willing to give Obama a chance.
I tend to be cynical of all politicians, and goodness knows this country is in for some tough times, but I hope that President Obama will prove to be one of the better leaders this country has seen.
Political threads typically get a little more heated than others, and understandably so, but it is just a bad idea to mix it with a thread about race. So those of you who want to talk about race, please do so some other time. Or corner a coworker in the hallway– whatever works for you.
Because race has never had anything to do with politics.
Adam #49, thanks for the link to the wonderful Boston Globe article. I briefly quote from this article: “…Obama’s example has created in some black men a new sense of personal responsibility, largely because of the president-elect’s own story…I especially hear (from black youth) that there are no more excuses: You can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States…Obama has made personal responsibility a recurring theme, particularly when addressing black audiences.”
John #47, no doubt I could have worded my #3 comments better, and inserting “some” would have helped get my intent across more clearly. These two black friends I speak of, are amazing individuals. One is a retired Marine, decorated Vietnam combat veteran. He was raised in a terrible family situation, in poverty, with no father or mother at home. He was basically raised by an older sister. After his military service, he got an education with the help of the GI Bill, and started several successful business enterprises. My other friend was a high school football star, got his college degree paid for through a football scholarship. Now he manages a local trucking company. Both are hard workers, married with children, and are a credit to humanity. They both express disgust at the rap culture mentality that has taken hold of so many, but they are hopeful that because of Obama’s influence, real change will take place.
Scott, congratulations on having two black friends. I currently have a 2.6% BFQ (black friend quotient, calculated by dividing my 4 black friends on Facebook by my total friend count of 153). I’m trying to get it up over 50%, at which point I would be permitted to use the “n” word in casual conversation.
I have a black friend. He shows no mercy in his mockery of white people who come up to him just to tell him that they have a black friend.
If the principle of secession at will had been established, Utah and California and Oregon could have gone off on their own.
Of course, this might have been a good thing.
Uchtdorf and Ballard share more of their experiences attending the inauguration:
Uchtdorf said: “We could feel the deep emotion around us — we were surrounded by people of all colors, of all creeds and of all languages…. It was a great experience we had — to see a unity there that I hope will last on and continue throughout the years of this administration…. [I]t was wonderful to feel that unity of different faiths… We felt we were in the right place with all these whom we call brothers and sisters, to pray for this presidency, for this administration, and with them to pray for all the governments around the world to bring again peace and prosperity and unity to all countries…. When the oath was taken, this lady next to her (Sister Uchtdorf) just embraced her and gave her a kiss with tears running down…. It was for the people of the world to have a chance to follow the wonderful example given by the United States in a transfer of powers in a democracy — the liberties, the freedoms and the justice for all — as it is presented in such a wonderful way from one administration to another.”
Ballard said: “I left with a feeling that the people of America are going to unite behind this new president and his administration and that we need to pray for him. We need to exercise our prayers and help him accomplish the great objectives that he has set.”
“We need to exercise our prayers and help him accomplish the great objectives that he has set.”
I’m doing my part by praying that the harnessed power of the sun will clear this work off my desk today.
I think everyone should identify themselves by race. Everyone seems to be assuming that Scott, e.g., is white, which I think is a racist assumption. I don’t see how we can have a productive conversation on these issues until we’re known by the color of our skins.
My skin is a husky, burnished tan.
Oops, just read Frank M.’s comment.
That’s Frank “pasty-white” M. to you, buddy.
gst #59, I have set a goal to have three black friends by the end of next week. That will increase my total by 33 percent, in just one week. This will raise my BFQ to 3.5%, which is higher than yours, since altogether I only have 84 friends.