Here's Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen backed by beautiful gospel singers at the Obama Inaugural celebration, doing This Land Is Your Land. Watch Pete's eyes gleam when he does the private property verse. A moment worth watching again and again. Looking at that gorgeous crowd, I'm feeling something like, what, can it be ... hope! Definitely hope.
As for Obama's speech speech? Perfect pitch. The sea of tear streaked faces said it all.
No blues skies everything-is-fine, no-sacrifice-necessary bullshit that we've heard for years on end. The assessment of the American moment was as real as real gets and came just moments into the speech:
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.And then, the soaring announcement of a new day:
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
He affirms America's strengths and calls upon us to put aside narrow self-interest in the pursuit of a vision of hope, action, and change:
We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.Obama calls us to "a new era of responsibility," and invokes the values that we all share when we are true to our higher selves.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.And then, beautifully, he quotes George Washington to again say that we are in great crisis and danger, and that our hope and virtue are our greatest assets.
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."This is leadership and this is greatness. This is a man who speaks truth about our moment in history and articulates a vision to match. Obama calls us to personal and collective greatness, to set aside our narrow self-interests for the collective good, to accept sacrifice, and to rise to the many challenges before our nation. Obama inspires us to become our best selves, and to find meaning in struggle and sacrifice for the common good.
History has turned the page.
Meanwhile, The Onion's gleeful fantasies of a series of gruesome Presidential accidents is at an end: George W. Bush has died peacefully in his sleep.