On the holiday by which we mark Reverend Martin Luther King’s birthday, President Obama was sworn in for the second time (or for the fourth time if you count the mistake in 2008 and the quiet ceremony on Sunday this year). Charley and I regroup to talk about the symbolism of the day, the hype, and the speech – what we made of it as a piece of oratory and oral history, what it says about the last four years and what it means for the next four.
We talk about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, gay rights, gender equality, socio-economic inequality and the safety net, among other topics.
Here are some of the key quotes we discuss (but please read the whole thing, we both agree it will go down in history):
What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”…Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.
The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
Tune in for the full discussion and let us know what you thought of the speech and what you think the pressing social issue of our time is.
To finish up, Charley and I reveal our FYIs for the week. Mine is the New Yorker piece about the Beyonce lip-synching “scandal” and why we care, and Charley talks about the Hot Stove Season in Baseball and Quentin Tarantino’s interview on Fresh Air.
- Obama: On offense for liberalism (politico.com)
- The Collective Turn (nytimes.com)
- Obama’s Inaugual Address ‘One Of The Hardest Speeches I’ve Written,’ Jon Favreau Says (Huffingtonpost.com)