The new president’s inaugural remarks were underwhelming, but that’s for the best — if he had struck soaring rhetorical notes there’s no telling what the adulating crowd would have done. They might have proclaimed Obama president for life on the spot. Obama did make some gaseous promises about saving the world, but nothing much more than what any president, Republican or Democrat, might have been expected to say.
Two things about the inaugural address did catch my attention, however. One was Obama’s scapegoating of “cynics,” presumably anyone who dares say “no” to bailouts, inflation, and more reheated Keynesianism. Obama is in a vulnerable position, inheriting as he does the worst economy since the Great Depression and two ongoing wars. He and his party will need to find someone to blame when things keep getting worse. Franklin Roosevelt successfully directed the country’s discontent in the 1930s against those he slandered as
“malefactors of great wealth.”“economic royalists.” Obama, I predict, will do likewise. His attack on “cynics” sets the stage.
Obama’s foreign-policy remarks were, on the whole, not bad. His emphasis on multilateralism and alliances could suggest entanglements to come, perhaps a foreign policy just as aggressive as Bush’s but with more allies in tow. As much of a “cynic” as I may be, though, I think it’s notable that Obama did not rattle any sabers, beyond vaguely saying that the terrorists will not win. That’s kind of remarkable: this president didn’t threaten any foreign countries in his inaugural address. I suspect it won’t be long before he walks the same path of militarism that Bush and Clinton followed, but his remarks today did not include the kind of bluster I expected. So who knows? But again, I’m a pessimist — one of those dreaded “cynics.”