Tomorrow our President, Barack Obama, will deliver his second inaugural speech to the nation and the world.
This morning, a conservative professor named Thomas Basile wrote a piece on Forbes.com titled "Obama's Inaugural Speech Isn't Worth Watching." His Tea Party subtext is "Same Liberal Noise; Why Bother?"
On one level, he's right. Finding a memorable second inaugural speech is kind of like finding Paris Hilton's Greatest Film Roles.
Yet I contend that, regardless of political affiliation, you should watch the President's speech. We are always facing a dangerous and uncertain world - every inaugural - every President.
As in other times, global and domestic challenges abound:
- climate change becoming ubiquitous and unstoppable
- radical elements shifting political lanscapes everywhere
- terrorism growing more autonomous and amorphous
- nuclear weaponization nearing uncontrollable global reality
- crushing debt forcing retrenchment of liberal democracies
- potential for local and regional wars raging out of control
- democratic elements, though crude, toppling dictatorships
- a global middle class forcing enormous economic change
- potential U.S. energy independence with reward and risk
- science generating new discoveries in the universe
- genetic research revolutionizing treatment and prevention
- social media and technology fueling entrepreneurship
I expect partisanship. I also expect leadership. We all hope and pray that the President lifts us as a nation toward higher goals than mere media combat and party line votes. We've had about as much of that as we can stomach.
We stand on the verge of this generation's last gasps and the following generation's first triumphs. In his speech, Barack Obama is not a JFK receiving the torch. He's Dwight Eisenhower preparing to pass on the torch. Next inaugural, he won't get to say anything. He'll be mute.
Regardless of your politics, we all acknowledge that President Obama is pretty good with the spoken word. Tomorrow, I expect him to elevate the dialogue beyond reasonable and reachable to what excites us all as Americans - the very real possibility of our collective greatness rescuing our reason.
Barack Obama is eminently capable of doing just that. Let's all watch tomorrow and see if he does. I guess Professor Basile will be sorting out his sock drawer.
In the context of great moments, this is like Ted Williams' last at bat. I expect our President to deliver just like Ted did.
A home run.