- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009



No one could have been uninspired by the events of Inauguration Day. More than a mere rite of transfer, more than a transition from the president of one party to that of another, the Inauguration was transformational for the human spirit.

The American people, and people of good will everyone, were changed - for a day or in some cases perhaps for a lifetime - by Barack Obama taking the oath of office as the nation’s first minority president, by his call for personal action and responsibility, and by the awesome spectacle. The day was a triumph for President Obama; for President Bush, who made the transition so smooth; for the untold numbers of Americans who attended (in good humor despite long waits and cold weather); for the day’s organizers, volunteers, and security details; and - well - for everyone who watched or heard the Inauguration, wherever they were. Washington put on quite a show, traffic gridlock notwithstanding.

The tremendous goodwill and bipartisan spirit that have marked not just yesterday’s Inauguration but the post-election interregnum (beginning with Sen. John McCain’s gracious and moving concession speech) will not last forever; honeymoons invariably end, especially in Washington. President Obama inherits enormous problems, and he deserves everyone’s prayers for success in solving them. He starts with the empathy of much of the world, including many Americans who never thought they would see the day when a black man, in a largely white country, was elected president with the affirmation of all ethnic groups. Where else but the United States of America?

President Obama’s Inaugural Address was at times a motivational talk, at other times a sermon, appealing to Americans to “seize gladly” a “new era of responsibilities” that defines “the meaning of our liberty.” He noted the obvious, that “we are in the midst of crisis,” citing not just war and the economy and its effects, but health care, education, energy, and “a sapping of confidence.” It is time, he said, to reaffirm “our enduring spirit” and wisely observed that “as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which our success depends.” His words to foreign governments were reassuring, that “America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more … (O)ur power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause.”

However trite or even imprecise some of what Mr. Obama said may seem to a casual observer, his words were on target and should resonate with America and the world alike. The State of the Union speech in February is a time for specifics - and that could be when the honeymoon ends. In any case, the Inaugural Address is a time for the lyrical, and the new president nailed it. Expressing confidence in the future rather than moroseness over the situation he inherited, Barack Obama is off to a good start, and so is 2009.

It was a beautiful day in America.

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