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We had so much hope then.

Around two million people gathered for the event.

We should not abandon the dreams and hopes we had then.

Full transcript below the fold.

My thoughts in the tip jar.

Full transcript as prepared for delivery of President Barack Obama's inaugural remarks January 20, 2009:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. 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. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; 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.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

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. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Some may be disappointed by the past 4 years (10+ / 0-)

    thinking of the hope we had, wondering what could have been.

    I too could be tempted towards such thoughts.

    But then I think of the alternative reality of 4 years of a McCain administration and I am not so disappointed.

    I read and reread this part of that speech:

    That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. 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. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

    These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

    Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

    They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

    On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:19:36 AM PST

    •  that comment got truncated (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BeninSC, a2nite, foucaultspendulum

      somehow the Republicans decided to stonewall and make the last paragraph an empty statement

      first in the Senate and then after the election of 2010 especially in the House

      perhaps now, after the tragedy of Newtown, we can again remember that despite our political differences we should be able to have common purpose on behalf of the American people

      If not, we are morally lost as a nation and as a society.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:28:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are times when common purpose isn't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foucaultspendulum, Redfire

        attainable.  It was apparent as the teahadists physically disrupted town hall meetings from coast to coast in summer '09 that this time is one of them.  Of the mulitiple failures of the past 4 years, the failure to acknowledge that reality when it so visibly manifested itself was among the biggest.

        I still shake my head in disbelief when I read this exchange in a 12/10 press conference:

        Mr. President, thank you. How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit? Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in. Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?

        THE PRESIDENT: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?

        Q Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the — we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do. I mean, what leverage would you have –

        THE PRESIDENT: Look, here’s my expectation — and I’ll take John Boehner at his word — that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

        One could, I guess, in theory, take Boehner at his word then.  Looking at his incoming caucus, however, should've raised serious questions, and looking at the likes of Cantor, Ryan, et al should've raised even more serious questions.  Perhaps it wasn't known then that Limbaugh would end up vetting budget deal proposals the following year.  Regardless, not raising debt ceiling as a part of any deal extending W's tax cuts was an epic mistake that exemplifies much of what went wrong.

        Your McCain comment above further illustrates the problem.  As you note, his presidency would've been a disaster.  McCain, however, is far better than your average member of his party.   Compared to the rest of the GOP Senate caucus (forget about the GOP House caucus), he looks halfway decent.

        The GOP is the party of 9/9/9, of birthers, of death panels, of fiscal brinkmanship, and of climate denial.  It is no more possible to find common ground w/ them than it was to find common ground w/ the segregationists 50 years ago.  It's beyond time to accept that self-evident truth and to act accordingly.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:49:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hopes and dreams for me have faded with realizatio (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          foucaultspendulum

          Realization that Obama has no desire to address the two-tiered justice system that is now structural in America.  Obama put himself between allowing the administration of the law to be pursued with respect to torture, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, money laundering, the BP spill, etc., going so far as to discourage and undercut even states that would attempt to follow the laws in place.

          You know this.  Peaceful protesters exercising the constitutional rights, under Obama, have been categorized as domestic terrorists.  Lawful protesters have been beaten, abused and spent more time in jail than any of the Wall Street criminals who have stolen billions, illegally foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of homes, ruined the economy and wiped out the economic future of millions.

          Preventing the law from being applied to these favored individuals means that America, as an idea, is rotten at its core.  By electing to protect the moneyed criminals and corporations Obama, whose Executive Branch fully controls the execution of the application of law, has, in fact, given the green light to these crimes, whatever may or may not be in his heart.

          I predict this will get no mention in today's address.

    •  I was not on the Mall (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ORDem, foucaultspendulum, Redfire

      my spouse was

      I like neither large crowds nor standing around for quite a while.

      I was ensconced at the bar of the National Democratic Club, warm and comfortable, and sipping a bloody mary.

      I remember being struck by the speech.

      I also remember thinking I wished he were right about the change in tone, even as I did not expect it - I had already heard and seen too much from the Republican leadership in the Congress.

      This time I will watch it from home, with my spouse.

      Perhaps I will offer a reflection then.

      Perhaps I will let my reactions ripen for a day or two.

      We need forceful leadership.

      We also need to organize ourselves to revitalize our society.

      Electing a President is never a sufficient discharge of our responsibilities as citizens in a liberal democracy.

      peace.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 07:38:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting to compare this speech (4+ / 0-)

    to FDR's first inaugural speech.

    Most people only think of the line, "The only thing to fear is fear itself". However, most of the address was directed at the banksters and industrialists who had crashed the economy - he called them the money-changers.

    Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

    True, they have tried. But their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

    Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

    He also said something that would be unthinkable in the modern political climate.
    Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy, the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves, to our fellow men.

    Recognition of that falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, and on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.

    He also hinted that he might ask for emergency powers, which really freaked out the GOP of his day.
    But, in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis -- broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
    Obama covered some of these themes in his first inaugural (obviously, not the emergency powers part) but in a much less dramatic way.  Still, there's a parallel; the only two modern presidents who have taken office during a time of economic catastrophe.   It's interesting to compare the two approaches.

    you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

    by Dem Beans on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:28:16 AM PST

    •  FDR called them the money-changers. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foucaultspendulum, Dem Beans

      Times do change...... this time around, the unscrupulous banksters have not only not admitted their "failures" and though they do stand indicted in the court of public opinion, their misconduct did not see any criminal indictments, not even any criminal investigations  and now ...... they are called "savvy businessmen" and invited to the White House.

      Most people only think of the line, "The only thing to fear is fear itself". However, most of the address was directed at the banksters and industrialists who had crashed the economy - he called them the money-changers. Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

      "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

      by allenjo on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:49:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If inaugural speeches were limited to "achievable" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Redfire

    goals, they wouldn't be worth listening to. The Inaugural Address is supposed to be a source of inspiration, not a "contract" we can sue the President over if he fails to deliver.

    I expect tomorrow's address to be a statement of values and intentions, and a commitment to try his best to fulfill those intentions... not a wedding vow.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 08:50:21 AM PST

    •  So we are to have no expectations, only to be (0+ / 0-)

      inspired by a speechwriter's words and the man who so eloquently delivers those words?

      That seems so sad.

      The Inaugural Address is supposed to be a source of inspiration, not a "contract" we can sue the President over if he fails to deliver.

      "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

      by allenjo on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 12:58:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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