I'll grant you, I haven't taken a public speaking class in 20 years--but to hear some of the pundits describe President Obama's second Inaugural Address as "soaring rhetoric" has me questioning my understanding of the definition of "soaring rhetoric". To me, "soaring rhetoric" is "With malice toward none, with charity for all" or "We shall land a man on the Moon in this decade and return him safely to the Earth" or "Mr Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!"
The term I would use to describe yesterday's speech would be "confusing". It sounded like the President was going to honor those who built our country into what it is today:
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central
authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills
can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative
and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility,
are constants in our character.
Reading those two lines takes me back to a better time. A time when people were held accountable for their actions and decisions in life--rather than given handouts to deal with the consequences and told "it's not your fault--someone else is to blame for this." And the fact that these words were coming from the mouth of someone who has taken extraordinary steps to expand the "victim culture" and the Nanny State actually gave me reason to chuckle.
But then came the real agenda of the second term: more collectivism...
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that
fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new
challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires
collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands
of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met
the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single
person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip
our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and
research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.
Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation,
and one people.
I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers didn't say to the early Americans: "Each of you build your own road between cities" or "everybody has to fight the British by themselves". But I know for a fact that they didn't say "you have to help your neighbor pay for the house that he can't afford" and that Thomas Jefferson didn't just let everybody walk into the classroom at the University of Virginia and get a degree for free.
So while I would love to believe that Americans heard "We are all in this together" yesterday, I fear that "It's still not your fault" is what really hit home.