FORTY-FOUR IS ON DUTY
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 23 January 2009
President Barak Hussein Obama. Who among the baby-boomer generation and older would have thought they would live to see the son of white woman and black man win election to our nation’s highest office. Surely most believed a white woman would join the ‘good ol’ boys club’ long before a black. Hillary Clinton was sure counting on it. In fact, she all but said it was her entitlement. And so did hubby, Bubba. But this is America; a land where anything is possible—a land where dreams, through great sacrifice and persistence, just may come true. Just ask the ghost of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In late summer 1963, with the gigantic seated figure of Abraham Lincoln looming over his shoulder, King shared his dreams for our country with our country and the world. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed those dreams have been coming true and continue to do so.
After a bungled Oath of Office on Tuesday and a re-swearing in ceremony on Wednesday morning to get it exactly right according to law, President Obama now, officially, has the weight of the Oval Office squarely on his shoulders. As it was with every one of his predecessors, his first and foremost duty is to keep us safe. Nothing is more important. Nothing. For if he fails protecting our homeland and us, knowing we are in the midst of a battle with a determined enemy, his will be a failed presidency. President Obama said, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." You bet. But spirit alone will not defeat a pesky and formidable enemy. He better understand that our security and safety is not assured by spirit, ideals, and hope. Spirit and ideals are fine. “Hope,” however, is not a course of action. Our security and safety is well served with aggressive world-wide “offensive” operations—of all sorts—hunting down and tending to terrorists before they can do any harm. Our security and safety is well served by a strong military that is properly manned, led by the best and brightest, trained, and equipped with only the best tools and remain globally deployed poised to strike at any time. Enemies beware. Our security and safety is well served by a citizenry that is ever mindful we are at war and each has a duty to remain alert for bad actors—foreign and domestic—and to report suspicious behavior. It bears repeating, there is nothing that eclipses the importance of our security and safety. Nothing.
Our security and safety aside, President Obama’s Inaugural Address was, like all of his campaign speeches, well scripted and delivered with finesse and conviction. Interestingly enough, most of the remarks stayed true to that upon which America was founded—equality, freedom, pursuit of happiness, hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking. Toward the end of his comments he said “…we will not apologize for our way of life.” No kidding. We have nothing to apologize for. Our way of life has been achieved through ingenuity, sacrifice, persistence, risk-taking, damn hard work, sweat, and the most precious national asset of all—blood. For proof look no further than Arlington National Cemetery, National Cemeteries across the country, and public and private cemeteries in small towns and cities across America that bear the names of those who have died in service to country—protecting our way of life. President Obama mentioned Arlington in his remarks. He’d be well-served to regularly spend some time (not just annually laying a wreath) wandering the acres and acres of headstones to reflect on those who did something he opted not to do. Not only would visits amongst real heroes serve as a reminder of the high cost of our freedom and way of life but reinforce the privileged title and awesome responsibilities he inherited on Tuesday—Commander in Chief.
President Obama has articulated grandiose plans for a broad and aggressive agenda to rebuild America. He is well aware there is no shortage of critics, cynics, and Obama haters that will be keeping a close eye on everything he and his administration does. And right behind the watchful cadre will be an impatient, fickle public who supported him and expects him to work miracles. News flash: That will not happen. As such, he should not be surprised when they turn on him. Why? Because the very diversity which makes America great on one hand does not share a common binding experience from which to draw to pursue his “unity of purpose” on the other hand. “Unity of purpose” just may prove to be the most difficult problem of all to solve.
Soon our new, young president, who looks to Lincoln for inspiration and guidance, will be faced with tough decisions—decisions only the president can make. Closing Guantanamo Bay, softening interrogation techniques on known terrorists, and foregoing the military’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in favor of gays openly serving are only a few of the headliners with strong, opposing views and issues riddled with sundry potholes and unintended consequences—regardless of his decision(s). It won’t be long before we see firsthand if he has the moral courage and inner strength to do what is right vice what is popular. If he opts to govern by polling for popular opinion or proves hesitant and unable or unwilling to make clear decisions then he will fail. He must be decisive and unwavering once he has issued orders. It’s as simple as that. Yes indeed, welcome Mr. President.