I've always been impressed with how Barack Obama has addressed race - which has been largely by not bringing it up. Through his actions he is basically saying - I'm not black, I'm not white, I'm American. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually has said essentially those words before.
I find that as a person I think Obama is admirable. Being a smoker is even a fine flaw, and makes him perhaps more human than the media and his image-handlers want to make him out to be.
Although Obama wants to put more emphasis on being pragmatic than ideological, there is no questioning that he has an ideology. And well he should. But that's where we part ways, as - from what I can tell - we come from different philosophical camps.
This being inauguration day and change-over of whitehouse.gov I figured I'd check it out and see what the makeover looked like (not that I spent much time checking out the old whitehouse.gov).
I saw they had a blog, so I figured I would check it out.
I can't fully explain why, but I found Obama's first Official Proclamation kind of creepy.
The meat of it is this:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.
I have a real problem with the "serve one another" concept. I am very willing to help other people, but calling it "serving" other people I think is really problematic. Serving implies that their priorities come first. Everyone putting everyone else's priorities first doesn't make sense - and it leads to those "in power" setting the priorities for you. I think your personal priorities *should* in fact come before those of others.
I also am uncomfortable with the "remaking the nation" concept. This seems like a way overly-broad statement. Maybe that just means it ends up meaning nothing - but it really makes it sound like there is an agenda for radical change *away* from the founding philosophical principles of the country, not *toward* them. As far as I'm concerned, we've already been moving away from them - and toward is where we should be headed.
I think also that it comes across to me as an act of great hubris to declare your own inauguration day as a "National Day of" something. Maybe other presidents have done this too, and I just haven't paid attention before.
All in all, a good day. Bush was in fact a disaster, and in many ways Obama will bring positive change. But I'm definitely looking out for the types of change that I don't think we need.