It was as if America has been reborn. The ascendance of the 1st African American to power was celebrated in way that left no doubt that country was extremely thirsty for a visage not resembled as the traditional ones. Among many of European Americans, one got the impression that a sense was in the air—liberation from the guilt of hundreds of years of gruesome dehumanization of people of color. A feeling of exoneration was loudly felt. And for millions of African Americans, Obama was received as the coming of the Messiah, the grand San Salvador that will finally lift them from misery to poverty with dignity. But the grandiosity of the historic event—reminiscent only to the birth of the American republic 220 years ago—stood in sharp contrast to the tone of Obama’s words as he rose to deliver yet another bombastic message to the nation.
For the 2 millions Americans who jammed the Washington Mall, the emotions of the day were ushered by hopes that the coming to power of an African-American would certainly mean true change is in the air, but the hollowness of his message left many quite worry, even the departure of George W. Bush, whose first appearance on the Capitol steps drew loud boos from the assembled crowd, could not be a sweeter relief. As Bush was about to board the helicopter that was going to take him the airport for his eventual destination, jeers from the crowd was truly an embarrassment. The most hated president in American history, Bush drew a chant from the crowd most often heard from sports fans jeering an opposing team: “Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na, Hey Hey, Goodbye.”
The horror of 8 years of national nightmare has finally come to an end. A tragedy that began with the stealing of an election in 2000 catapulted into two wars of aggression, virulent attacks on constitutional rights, greater polarization, sharp decline in growth of social inequality and the deepest economic crisis in modern American history. These feelings were loudly echoed by millions all over the world, who watched the investiture through international broadcasts. Obama’s speech never deviated from his common theme since he won the election past November. Lowering the expectations was the aim—a message fanatically trumpeted by the corporate media.
Observers quickly drew parallels between Obama’s rhetoric and that of the inaugural address given by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. Frankly, no one can deny these historical parallels, especially with the daily wild swings occurring on Wall Street. “The crisis of the 1930s,” Roosevelt maintained, had arisen not because of any lack of nature “bounty” or “human efforts” to multiply it, but because “the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence.” He went on to say that “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.”
Critiques say that part of Obama’s speech appeared to have drawn from this same understanding if one tries to put his words into historical context. “Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began,” he declared, “our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year,” he continued. Now, the pertinent question remains: When will we see deliverance? The balls are over. The hard work has begun.