Saturday, September 04, 2010

The character of an Executive - Compare and Contrast

Some excerpts from past inaugural addresses. Compare the words of real leaders to the current one.
Harry S. Truman
Inaugural Address
Thursday, January 20, 1949

The American people desire, and are determined to work for, a world in which all nations and all peoples are free to govern themselves as they see fit, and to achieve a decent and satisfying life. Above all else, our people desire, and are determined to work for, peace on earth—a just and lasting peace—based on genuine agreement freely arrived at by equals.
In the pursuit of these aims, the United States and other like-minded nations find themselves directly opposed by a regime with contrary aims and a totally different concept of life.
That regime adheres to a false philosophy which purports to offer freedom, security, and greater opportunity to mankind. Misled by this philosophy, many peoples have sacrificed their liberties only to learn to their sorrow that deceit and mockery, poverty and tyranny, are their reward.
That false philosophy is communism.
Communism is based on the belief that man is so weak and inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore requires the rule of strong masters.
Democracy is based on the conviction that man has the moral and intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern himself with reason and justice.
Ok, so Harry gets it. He clearly defines the difference between freedom and liberty and communism, his philosophy and the philosophy of America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
First Inaugural Address
Tuesday, January 20, 1953

In pleading our just cause before the bar of history and in pressing our labor for world peace, we shall be guided by certain fixed principles.
These principles are:
(2) Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate the futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an aggressor by the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for security. Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains.
(6) Recognizing economic health as an indispensable basis of military strength and the free world's peace, we shall strive to foster everywhere, and to practice ourselves, policies that encourage productivity and profitable trade. For the impoverishment of any single people in the world means danger to the well-being of all other peoples.
There were nine points, but these two jumped out at me. Are you starting to see a pattern?

John F. Kennedy
Inaugural Address
Friday, January 20, 1961

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
So let's not be weak, and we should support our friends and oppose our foes. Hmmmm, support Israel perhaps? Oppose those that have publicly that Israel is illegitimate?

Ronald Reagan
First Inaugural Address
Tuesday, January 20, 1981

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.
Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem.
From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.
Soooooo government is not the solution? The DEUCE you say!

Barack Obama
Inaugural Address
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

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,
Way to blame, there chief. And weren't YOU part of the Senate, voting present for TWO YEARS?
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.
Well thanks for that passive-aggressive analysis! What the heck does that even mean? How were these things lost exactly? Unlike Truman, you cannot state the problems precisely as he named communism as a great enemy. If you cannot frame a problem, how can you address a solution?
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.
Nice blame there. What "cynics"? To whom are you referring? And WHAT stale arguments no longer apply? Again TO WHAT ARE YOU REFERRING? Are we supposed to guess? By cynics, I am guessing Republicans, and that the ground shifted beneath them by your election? Guess what? I think YOU are about to see the ground shift again this November.
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.
Question asked. Question answered. The government is too big. Got that? And it doesn't work BECAUSE it is not up to the government to help someone find a job, or health care, or retirement. That is up to the INDIVIDUAL.
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—the nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
Generating wealth and expanding freedom is a crisis. Ok. Gotcha. Expansion. Has any previous President referred to the EXPANSION of freedom? Very bizarre choice of words, which are truly belittling to the concept of freedom and liberty. Expansion connotes conquest. Our rights come from God, as described in, oh, I don't know, the Declaration of Independence, and from there, our freedom. We FAVOR the prosperous and the nation fails? How does that work exactly?
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 the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart—not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
Surest route? Common good? And is it YOU who gets to define what the "common good" is? The success of our economy is dependent on what? Again, clarification please. What do you mean? The reach of our prosperity? Are you saying that equal opportunity, not equal share, is the surest route? It has been two years for you now. You just said we cannot favor the prosperous and in the next breath (or soon thereafter) the REACH of prosperity. Got it. You are going to share the prosperity of others with the less so. You decide. You say it right here in your inaugural speech what your intent really is.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
Nice shout out! How about defining those "mutual interests and mutual respect"? Where is the respect from the Muslim world to us? When? How? Examples please!
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 the 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.
Well, when have we EVER turned a blind eye to the suffering of the world? Examples please! Who are the first responders when there is a tsunami? An earthquake? A volcano? Good grief what platitudes! Is this a Hallmark card? Consume the world's resources? How about consuming our OWN and drill in Alaska? How about the coal industry here in the US? How about drilling in the gulf?

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson, fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, 1798