Washington, DC – On April 30, 1789, at the Federal Hall in New York City, George Washington took the Oath of Office as the first President of the United States. He and the members of both houses of Congress then assembled in the unfinished Senate Chamber where Washington took less than 20 minutes to deliver the first inaugural address. Precisely two hundred and twenty five years later – at the same time of day – the 44th President of the United States wandered into the White House Press Briefing Room for a surreal 48-minute exchange with members of the media.
The difference in these two presidential presentations, separated by two and a quarter centuries is stark – and alarming – for what was said, left unsaid and the manner in which they were conveyed. Observers described Washington’s delivery as “humble,” even “anxious.” Some – noting more than a dozen references to “prayer,” “divine blessing,” “providence” the “Almighty Being” and the “Great Author of every public and private good” – said the new president was “reverent.” None of those match the demeanor of Barack Obama during this week’s séance. Instead of invoking the favor of God, our Head of State sought to fix blame for his failures.
When Washington delivered his address, the most important issue before our Legislative Branch was the ongoing national debate over the Bill of Rights. He devoted nearly a full page of his eight-page handwritten remarks to “how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the Fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture…” Rather than attack members of Congress who favored or opposed the first ten Amendments to our new Constitution, Washington pledged his “entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good.”
That’s not the Obama approach. On Tuesday Congress was his number one target. He whined, “We’re in divided government right now. Republicans control the House of Representatives. In the Senate, this habit of requiring 60 votes for even the most modest piece of legislation has gummed up the works…things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill.” That was in response to a reporter’s question about gun control – the Second Amendment – part of that same Bill of Rights George Washington spoke of in his very first address as President. How’s that for a contrast in leadership.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.