Commentary: Inauguration speech set right tone

This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee. Inaugural speech sets the tone.Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009

When Barack Obama took the oath of office Tuesday, he shattered centuries of precedent. Then he stood in the figurative rubble of the past and invoked the most ancient of America's values as the path out of the nation's deep and daunting problems.

"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit," he said, "to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

Obama set aside the soaring rhetoric that he employed as a candidate, and delivered a sober and thoughtful set speech meant to establish a tone for his presidency. It was a good choice.

He spoke of the reasons we find ourselves in troubled times: "Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

And he looked to the past for the virtues we need to move into the future: "Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history."

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.

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