Entering a new phrase: Barack Obama’s inaugural address


Eire on the side of the new president: There’s no one as Irish as Bearach O’Bama.

Too short to be an oratorio, Barack Obama‘s inaugural speech (video) proved nevertheless that as an orator he’s got handle.

That guy can speak. Notwithstanding our gratitude to George W. Bush for the past eight years of malaprops, listening to the new president yesterday was like going to the dentist for a deep cleaning followed by a thorough rinse.

Can barely even taste George now, can you?

Yes, the nation will have to endure several root canals, but for now, the public seems numb with delight about having a president who can speak our language and sounds like a grownup.

Considering that Obama will have to deliver more bad news to Americans than any other president in memory, we’re fortunate that he’s such a skilled and inspiring speaker.

It was already gratifying that we’ll have a president who loves to play basketball. (As a former ballboy for the Phillips 66ers, I feel a special tug in the new president’s direction.) But it’s clear that no matter how much Obama likes to dribble, as a speaker he never drools.

One of the better analyses — up to a point — of Obama’s inaugural address was Thomas DeFrank‘s piece in the Daily News:

Whatever triumph and travail lie ahead, Barack Obama has already delivered the most critical 2,401 words of his presidency.

It was part sermon, part tutorial, part call to arms, well-packaged and elegantly delivered.

Yet for all the inspiring, hopeful flourishes of his 18-minute inaugural address, Obama also served up a stark, tough-love message:

Grow up, guys. No more of the same old partisan, gridlocked, dog-eat-dog baloney or we’re all doomed.

He declared war not just on global terrorists but on “the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and wornout dogmas, that for too long have strangled our politics.”

Yes, Obama’s speech was so stirring and well-delivered that it made even the most hardened cynics’ knees buckle.

And DeFrank’s analysis is smoothly written. But let’s not get carried away about what DeFrank says about our having to “grow up.”

We will not grow up — and by “we” I mean politicians and their “same old partisan, gridlocked, dog-eat-dog baloney.” That will always be around, and every incoming president has to give us the same encouragement to pull together and forget the partisanship.

Yes, Obama had to say that, but partisanship is what democracies are made of, and other parts of Obama’s speech were more memorable — like when he said:

“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.”

You heard him. He actually included “non-believers” in there. What a refreshing change from the Bush regime, which tried to ram its evangelical nonsense down our throats.

Obama gave the obligatory shout-out to God, and I’m sure She’s happy about that, but he actually directed a conciliatory phrase right at the Muslim world. Astonishing.

The new president, you might notice, pointedly did not portray the planet as the battleground of a comic-book-style “clash of civilizations.” Instead, he actually tried to promote the idea that no matter what, we’re all human.

Leave aside the lingering doubts that Dick Cheney is one of us. You have to hope that those words of Obama’s will get under our skin and stay there.

Now, Obama, get to work on that New Great Depression.

And you out there: Start clicking on these items…unless you have to get back to work…if you still have a job…



Wall Street Journal: ‘President Obama Urges Unity Amid “Raging Storms” of War and Recession’

N.Y. Times: ‘Rejecting Bush Era, Reclaiming Values’

Though couched in indirect terms, the inaugural address was a stark repudiation.


N.Y. Post: ‘Fatal Kitty Toss’

N.Y. Times: ‘Hope Mixes with Doubt as World Reacts’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Queens housing market hit hard’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Bush: ‘”We Led With Conviction”‘

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Market tumbles 330 points on bank jitters’

On a day when America welcomed a new president, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 4 percent as investors worried that the worst is yet to come for banks.

FOX: ‘Obama Administration Moves to Halt Guantanamo Trials’

Hours after taking office, the president orders military prosecutors in Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to seek a 120-day halt in all pending cases.


Crain’s New York Business: ‘Report: Thousands of BofA layoffs coming this week’

Bank of America Corp. is expected to cut thousands of jobs in its capital markets business starting this week, and many will likely come from New York, a report says.

N.Y. Times: ‘Top Newsday Editors Return to Work After Dispute’

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Is Cablevision meddling in Newsday’s coverage?’

Newsday: ‘Knicks center Eddy Curry slapped with sex suit’

Newsday: ‘Lawsuit filed against Eddy Curry (Warning: Explicit language)’

N.Y. Post: ‘NEWSDAY EDITORS “MISSING”‘ (Keith Kelly)

N.Y. Times: ‘Trials for Parents Who Chose Faith Over Medicine’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Tax Issue Won’t Derail Geithner: Senators Are More Concerned With How Treasury Nominee Will Help Fix Economy’

Timothy Geithner will call for a comprehensive and aggressive approach to tackling the U.S. financial crisis when he appears Wednesday at hearings on his confirmation as Treasury secretary, while also trying to assure lawmakers that he simply erred by failing to pay some payroll taxes earlier this decade.

At the hearing, Mr. Geithner will likely be grilled over his tax missteps and his role in helping to craft the Bush administration’s financial-sector rescue. But senators’ seeming reluctance to derail his confirmation while the economy is sputtering and the lending freeze is worsening makes it likely he will be confirmed for the cabinet post….

Some lawmakers, including many Republicans, are also relieved to finally have someone to deal with other than [Hank] Paulson, whose handling of the financial rescue angered many on Capitol Hill.

“Republican leaders think that Mr. Geithner was one of President Obama’s better cabinet selections. They believe they’ll be able to work with Mr. Geithner and have honest conversations,” said Sam Geduldig, a financial-services lobbyist and former aide to Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.

N.Y. Times: ‘In Albany, Higher Taxes for the Rich Expected’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Kennedy Has Seizure at Inaugural’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Senate Confirms Raft of Cabinet Picks’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Chrysler-Fiat Deal Needs U.S. Loans’

‘Prosecutors Focus on Madoff’s Point Man’

From the Wall Street Journal:

As a key lieutenant to money manager Bernard Madoff for more than 30 years, Frank DiPascali Jr. said he headed stock-options trading and was the point man for investment-advisory clients who were told he executed their trades.

Now, he is a potential point man in the investigation of a Ponzi scheme that Mr. Madoff has told prosecutors he carried out over decades, according to a criminal complaint and people familiar with the matter, potentially bilking investors out of $50 billion….

Mr. DiPascali hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing. His lawyer, Marc Mukasey, declined to comment about Mr. DiPascali’s role with Mr. Madoff except to say that he had frequent contact with investors.

Crain’s New York Business: ‘Madoff victims likely to get little money back’

Investors in the alleged Ponzi scheme face a long and complicated legal process in order to recover funds.