a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's inaugural address promises new era for stale politics in America

Danielle King walked away from watching Barack Obama’s televised presidential inauguration with a large crowd of college coeds Tuesday, speechless and amazed.

The 21-year-old California University of Pennsylvania student reacted in similar fashion as millions of Americans did to an unprecedented inauguration in Washington, D.C.

“It gave me goose bumps,” said King, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

It was awe inspiring to look over a sea of nearly 1.5 million cheering people from across the nation gathered before the U.S. Capitol Building for the swearing in of the nation’s first black president.

Obama arrives at a time of great concern for the economy and hope that he will bring about the right change to incredibly divisive American politics. The expectations could not be higher for a brand new face whose lack of experience has come into question.

Among the rhetoric in his nearly 20-minute address, this passage seemed to best express the moment:

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

It wasn’t a sound bite from an inaugural address that people will remember generations down the road, such as this unforgettable line, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” that Franklin D. Roosevelt gave history during World War II.

Obama seemed to be saying the all-American image of a lily white, wealthy Republican man with perfectly parted hair bangs is no longer all about America. The stereotype of the tax-and-spend liberal Democrat who courts the poor without regard to government waste is old school, as well. Those colliding political worlds changed while neither party appeared to be noticing a dramatic shift in demographics.

There is something to be said for youthful idealism. But this is a nation with a string of political leaders who have preached bipartisanship since at least the Antebellum era when Daniel Webster rose to fame in his fruitless attempts to stave off the Civil War.

Regardless, there is no question that Obama will redefine the presidency when he simply steps foot for the first time into the Oval Office.

(Caption: Cal U. student Danielle King, left, wipes away a tear after Barack Obama is sworn in as president while watching the inauguration at her campus with a friend, Iscah Perry.)

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