#44 Reax From The Left

As promised, liberal reaction to Obama's inauguration. Adam Serwer:

Today, Obama sought to provide a vision of our adulthood; an attitude that rejects the impulsiveness, painted as toughness, of the Bush years. It is no longer a time to put "leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame." While rejecting "as false the choice between our safety and our ideals," Obama nevertheless promised that "we will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense." This is not "Bring it on." This is not "Dead or Alive." It is time to put away the cowboy hats and pop guns, for "the world has changed, and we must change with it."

Robert Arena:

What I love about those crowd shots - they are demonstration of a real mandate - not a spin manufactured image of a mandate. With high poll numbers and this kind of demonstration, it's clear the direction of the nation.

Jonathan Cohn:

...if the standards of polite political discourse now require accepting people who pray to god in different ways, it doesn't require recognizing those who choose not to pray at all. At least not yet. That made this line in Obama's address significant: "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus--and non-believers." Perhaps this is another barrier, albeit a rhetorical one, that Obama intends to tear down over the next few years.

John Judis:

Barack Obama has the makings of a great orator, but his inaugural speech was not a great oration. It was well-delivered, but it consisted of a hodgepodge of themes, injunctions, and applause lines that did not speak directly to the crisis that the country faces.


I think I've heard too many Obama speeches. I'm unmoved. It's not his fault.He sounds awesome as ever. But I've seen this too many times, I think.

Mark Kleiman:

Not one of Obama's showier performances. Unless I missed it, he never turned on the million-candlepower smile. Nothing intended to get the crowd moving: none of Obama's trademark soaring cumulatives. Much of it would have fit in his stump speech or a State of the Union. As always, he seems to feel the weight of history

Leslie Savan:

So many of us see Obama as our sole hope (we're that desperate, yes, but maybe not delusional, if you can believe the polls that say even with expectations for the guy sky-high, we're willing to give him two years to repair decades of damage) that even if his speech had been a dud, it wouldn't matter. We've gradually become so in sync with this transfiguration of America that we'd collectively, silently, fill in any poetry he might have missed.

Timothy Kincaid:

This was a good speech. It began with the usual platitudes and was full of generic rhetoric, but it also gave indications where this administration will view the world with different eyes than the last. Specific references to restoring “science to its rightful place”, and “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” suggest direct policy changes while more general references hint at priorities that will change.

What saddened me was the continuation of excluding gay persons from any reference in the grand fabric of the nation. Of course some will dismiss this as an overreaching demand for such a small community, but Jews and Muslims – both much smaller populations in America – received specific reference. As much as I hope and wish for meaningful change for our community, I now fear that gay Americans are seen as a less insignificant part of Barack Obama’s America.