The Bigger Picture – Inaugural Week

Here are some of the commentaries I liked on Obama’s inaugural speech and what it implies about his second term agenda.

  • [UPDATE Read this one, please.  A key point Obama made has been ignored:  The need for government to adapt to the needs of the people asthose needs change.  Government has no ideal fixed size.  The ideal government is one that adapts to the times, to help resolve contemporary problems.  Sometimes that means less government, sometimes more, and sometimes just government doing different things.  The issue is not the size of government, but rather the need for governmen].
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  • Obama’s progressive second inaugural addressA must read.  Money quote:
    “The Obama who begins his second term is much more acutely aware that the opposing party rejects, at the most philosophical level, the definition of the good that he has put forward as the national creed. Four years ago he expressed a jaunty confidence that the differences must be bridged. Today he committed himself to the same goal, but with a wariness born of harsh experience.”
    .
  • This speech did not signal a big change in ideology.  Obama always has been a liberal.  What’s changed is that he now realizes that the other side does not even share the basic goals that he thought they shared with him.  So, now Obama will try much more confrontation.
    .
  • A dissident, but still solidly-conservative commentator saw fighting words and wonders what the GOP will do now.
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And, as long as we’re on the subject, here are two major articles on the future of liberalism:

Finally, from before the inauguration, an incendiary call for Obama to do what the GOP does: Use every governing opportunity to try to break the opposing party.  FYI, this guy is no liberal blogger. He’s a major force at CBS and his call for fighting back against the GOP’s total war is significant.

I’ll have much more on the GOP’s future – since that is next week’s topic – in a day or two.

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3 responses

  1. James H. Zimmerman | Reply

    I for one found the religious tone of the inaugural very off-putting. What must, not only non-believers, but Buddhists and Muslims think?
    As for the political content–my prediction, sadly, would have to be that nothing much will happen in Obama’s second term; the Republicans will continue to obstruct. We will waste our time with useless debates on debt limits etc. while the real problems of the country go unspoken.

    I can’t refrain from once again pointing out that the so-called Republican majority in the House is actually a minority, in terms of popular votes. It is based on a gerrymander. And this allows them to block our government? Surely something is wrong.

    PS I also thought the singers were terrible–whether lip-synched or not LOL And the poetry was not so good either (I recall Robert Frost in 1960).

    1. The Constitutional process (President – House – Senate) appears to be working as designed — nothing bad can happen quickly. That the Republican majority in the House is the result of gerrymandering in the several states is business as usual — both parties do it whenever and wherever they can. Reagan clearly had the popular vote majority, but he had to work with Tip O’Neill and a Democratic House. (Fortunately, Dutch and Tip seem to have gotten along rather well and the country prospered. Not so today …. ) We do not suffer the excesses of a parliamentary system’s alternating (and thus temporary) majorities — thank you, Founders.

      What’s wrong (IMHO) is the dominance of primaries in the nominating process. The disproportionate influence on the primaries of party radicals on both sides means that the ultimate choice we get every fourth November is not between a sensible Dr. Jekyll and a sensible Alice, but between Mr. Hyde and the Red Queen. Smoke-filled rooms gave us the Roosevelts (TR and FDR), Truman, and Eisenhower. Primaries have their role to play, but making them decisive was a mistake.

      As for political progress the next four years, I think that tax reform and immigration reform might actually happen. On these issues, both parties fear voter dissatisfaction enough that something might get done. On fiscal policy, I fear you are correct — the individual members’ views of what will get them defeated at the polls are so different that we’re in for a long four years.

  2. James H. Zimmerman | Reply

    You are certainly correct that both Republicans and Democrats have used gerrymanders. What we have to do is put a stop to it and implement one man (or woman), one vote; although I’m not quite sure exactly how to do this.

    Yes, primaries, particularly on the Republican side produce radical candidates. They were introduced by the Progressives in the early 20th century with the best of intentions. An instance of the law of unintended consequences, perhaps.

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