Just before Barack Obama got up to speak last night, I noted that his speech will be very important in where it focuses its attention. If it would mention the "failed policies of the last eight years", it would be a disaster. If it would talk about working together to move forward, it could be good. Thankfully, President-elect Obama chose the latter route.
While it was an altogether rather boring speech, with a couple of oddities - the emphasis on the thanks to his internal campaign team was somewhat disconcerting, and the "Yes we can" bit at the end was rather forced and lame (perhaps because he seemed understandably exhausted) - the overall message was reasonable and hopeful for those of us who did not vote Obama yesterday.
Today's Wall Street Journal has a pair of good pieces today that I think hint at what President-elect Obama's first responsibilities and tasks should be. The second one, written by former Vice President Al Gore with David Blood, will have to wait until after he is President: Promoting sustainable capitalism. While perhaps Mr. Gore has different ways of doing so when one looks at the details, it certainly behooves Mr. Obama to understand what policies will promote sustainable capitalism and which ones will not.
But it is the first piece, written by a lawyer who interned for Senator John Kerry, which notes what a disgrace the treatment of George W. Bush, the President of the United States, has been for years. President Clinton certainly took away some of the respect for office in this country, but it was the disrespect accorded to President Bush on a consistent basis by citizens of this country that has gone beyond the pale. In the end, however, it is up to Mr. Obama to resurrect the respect given to a President now in order to ensure that he is given the respect he deserves the next four years.
For the sake of our country, it is time to look ahead.