Obama 2.0: The Sequel
What happened to jobs, they ask? What about the deficit? The budget? The debt ceiling? The dangerous world overseas? Why didn't he reach out, some ask, with more soaring rhetoric and bipartisanship as
In other words, how dare he wage a vigorous defense of what he really believes?
The problem with that critique is that it requires more than a little amnesia about the debate this country has been having over the past couple of years about the role of government.
I'm all in favor of bipartisan outreach. But there's an important difference between, say, Obama's current situation and that of Lincoln's time.
When Lincoln reached out "(w)ith malice toward none, with charity for all" to "bind up the nation's wounds" and "do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace," the Civil War was in its last days. Today's polarized political debate is only entering a new phase.
Compared to the feverish tone of last year's presidential campaign, Obama's speech on the brink of his second term was only clarifying the differences between his goals and those who would like to stop him.
After all, when he called out those who "deny the overwhelming judgment of science" on climate change or refuse to allow love to be "equal" or seem to promote "perpetual war" or oppose the right of women to "earn a living equal to their efforts," he wasn't talking about all Republicans.
And when he spoke of those who believe that
But if the shoe fits, wear it.
In his final inaugural address, the president sounded like a man who knows his clock is running out. To press the issues for which he wants to be remembered, the four-year calendar is misleading. He appears to know that he has only a few months at best before his congressional opposition turns their attention to their own 2014 reelection prospects -- and make it much harder for him to get anything done.
He seemed to be signaling that he has learned from experience. Today's political landscape is polarized. There really are red states and blue states in the
This speech unveiled Obama 2.0, the sequel to the
Much has changed since those days. But Obama, who has avoided talking much about race for fear of being accused of racial favoritism, did more than pay the usual obligatory tributes to King's birthday holiday and the upcoming 50th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
Obama 2.0 updated the agenda to include today's big items, particularly marriage equality, climate change, women's rights and comprehensive immigration reform.
And he presented them in the fashion of
His opposition disagrees. That's OK. That's their job. But these are the issues on which Obama, repeatedly invoking "We the People," is betting his legacy. Let the people decide.
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