"What does change mean?" asked Woodrow Wilson in his inaugural address. That is a question which will soon be answered by President Barack Obama.
What surprised me most about Obama's speech was its lack of passion. It was lacking in the soaring oratory we have come to expect, especially when compared to other speeches he has delivered, most notably on Election Night. It seemed as cold as the subfreezing weather. Maybe he was trying to lower expectations. He succeeded.
Still, there were a number of themes which conservatives can praise. Among them, a message to terrorists that "you will not defeat us" and a pledge to eliminate wasteful government programs. That is easier said than done given that Congress will make those decisions, not the new president. Every government program attracts constituencies that argue how essential they are.
I enjoyed his line dismissing "worn-out dogmas" but wonder what he means by it. When a liberal dogma and a conservative dogma face off, which dogma will bite and which will roll over? When liberals talk like this, they usually require the conservative to compromise his principles in order to receive their blessing. During his relatively brief time in elective office, Obama has not been known for seeking common ground. Words ought to mean something. What does he mean by his?
Obama hinted at what he intends do about embryonic stem cell research and possibly "global warming," saying he wants to "restore science to its rightful place." What place would that be? Above morality and common sense? Above other scientists who disagree? There is no consensus about global warming. In fact, there are growing numbers of scientists and growing amounts of scientific evidence questioning whether this is indeed a dangerously warming planet. Will Obama rely only on those scientists who agree with his political positions?
On stem cell research, new science is showing that adult stem cells may fulfill the objectives originally believed to be achieved only with embryos. Which science will prevail in such cases? Will it be real science, or the "science" that supports the objectives of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party?