Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

America made history today---as it always does, every time we elevate one of our citizens to lead us.

But today was different, almost magical. And the magic had surprisingly little to do with the fact that our new president is the first one we've elected whose ancestors came from Africa. Today, we proved to the world that however muddled we may get from time to time, and however much we stumble along the way, the dream that is America still shines a hopeful beacon to the rest of the world.

Intelligent and tough, the challenges he faces as president are daunting. But he speaks to our hopes rather than our fears, and the poetry of his words calls forth what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. He takes office with a wave of good will---here and abroad---and sets an elevated and optimistic tone that, for all our troubles, is uplifting and inspiring. He has gone out of his way to reach out to those who disagree with him, and his practical mind seems intent on being president of all the people of this country---not a tool of ideologues.

He is the third president I've seen who is able to use words to summon his countrymen to unite to meet the daunting challenges of troubled times. The other two were Kennedy and Reagan---who, like Obama, had an ear for rhetoric and a wit and sparkle about them.

His inauguration was poetic and uplifiting; the last week was spent building toward a unity of purpose to help him move into an uncertain future. But the challenges ahead may well make him wonder about the wisdom of seeking the presidency in such uncertain times. While he brings intelligence and good intentions to the office, our own past history suggests that these traits provide no certain path to a better future; sometimes, it simply lets us get ourselves into more trouble.

And the stock market plummeted today. Obviously, poetry may move men's souls, but not their pocketbooks.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a veteran public prosecutor in Detroit, Michigan, specializes in the appellate practice of criminal law and writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.

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