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Obama’s Wasted Opportunity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

For generations, presidents have used their inaugural address to unite the nation in aspiring to new heights of achievement. But earlier this week President Obama chose to deliver a harshly ideological, aggressively partisan speech more appropriate for the campaign trail than the solemn occasion of our nation's 57th inaugural address. Rather than bring all Americans together with a celebration of common ground, his address read like a liberal laundry list with global warming at the top.


Although President Obama was sworn in with his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible, he did not echo the tone of unity for which Lincoln was so well known.

Lincoln’s second inaugural address is remembered as the quintessential example of using that moment before the entire nation to unite rather than divide. Lincoln offered “malice toward none” and “charity for all,” even though the nation was still embroiled in war. Even President Clinton, who went through a government shutdown, faced impeachment hearings and often decried Republicans, used his second inaugural address to try to unite with phrases like, “We need a new government … that is smaller, lives within its’ means, and does more with less.”

Past presidents have understood that the inaugural address is a unique opportunity to uplift and inspire a divided nation – but not this president.

President Obama chose to label those who oppose his big government policies as anti-science and unwilling to aid our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

The President laid out his agenda in stark terms: more spending on the same failing big government programs, refusing to address the impending crisis in Medicare or Social Security, and an aggressive push for a global warming agenda that drives up energy prices and takes away more of our freedoms in the name of personal ideology. A common thread through his proposals was the requirement that government continue to get bigger and spend more.


Using almost Orwellian language he stated that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action,” a phrase used to justify the continual expansion of government.

Demonstrating his ideology first approach, the president made no mention of the need to curb government overspending, despite the federal government spending over $1 trillion more than it has received for the past four years. Indeed, he actually reserved some of his most personal barbs for those who have the political courage to take on government overspending. These opponents of the president seek to cut spending while actually preserving the long-term solvency of vital programs, by reforming entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. But, in the president's world, those who wish to ensure that our seniors in need actually still have a Medicare that is not bankrupt are uncaring monsters.

Meanwhile, environmental extremists were singing hosannas over the president's haughty call for action on "extreme weather," the latest iteration of an ideological crusade that began as “global warming” before morphing to “climate change.” Either way, President Obama, after insulting his opponents as anti-science, used the unmatched platform of the inaugural address to call for new legislation. It appears on this initiative the president will seek to drive up the cost of gasoline for our automobiles and electricity for our homes and offices while taking away personal freedoms. Americans rejected cap-and-trade in 2010 and they will reject this latest "collective action" in the name of global warming.


Decades after John F. Kennedy's inaugural address his words still ring with grace across the generations, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

This past Monday, President Obama reduced the momentous opportunity of a similar inaugural address to just another shrill, petty, small campaign speech. How sad.

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