Saturday, January 24, 2009

Parsing the Obama Inaugural Address 2

I’ve heard many conservative commentators call Pres. Obama’s inaugural address a great speech. I’m not sure which speech they were listening to.

Or maybe that’s the problem – I rarely listen to speeches. I read them after the fact both to save time and to avoid the emotional affect of powerful speakers – like Mr. Obama.

Reading Mr. Obama’s speech, it looks like the usual generalities (with a liberal twist) peppered with the occasional glimpse of his philosophy of government.

Then there were the shots at Pres. Bush. Did someone forget to tell the speechwriters that the campaign is over? Did anyone consider that Mr. Bush would be sitting just a few feet from where Mr. Obama was speaking?

The most striking thing about his address requires remembering that he has stated his intention to be “post-partisan.” No more Democrat vs Republican or conservative vs liberal; he wants to talk about what works.

In the speech he said, “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

Um, no. The arguments we’ve had were over whether or not the Constitution permits certain activities. Ignoring that question isn’t post-partisan – it’s liberal. We argued over whether government can fix many of the problems in our society. Ignoring that isn’t post-partisanship, either – it’s liberalism.

Will the next four years be all about being “post-partisan?” If so, will post-partisanship require that dissenters simply shut up?

It’s been said that “bipartisanship” means “Democrats win.” Is post-partisanship going to be the same thing? If it includes treating political differences as moral failures, as with most of the references to Mr. Bush’s policies, then it may be a long four years.

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