Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inaugural

Thanks to the snow, I was able to actually watch Obama's inaugural address live yesterday. The speech was good, but something bugged me about it. Obama (along with most other politicians) has a habit of claiming crisis whenever there is a somewhat serious problem. The financial meltdown is a mess, but it's hardly a crisis. Terrorism is a threat, but it's hardly a major one.

Civil War? Crisis. World War II? Crisis. Missiles in Cuba? Crisis. 25% unemployment at the height of the Depression? Crisis. But while this financial mess is a crisis on an individual level for a lot of people, it's hardly a national emergency. It's basically the early '90s all over again, and we came out of that okay with a minimum of government intervention. And though we're due for another major terror attack involving Americans, terrorism is hardly an existential threat or a national crisis. From an American perspective, it rises to the level of "kinda annoying." (Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan can legitimately consider terrorism a crisis. I'll let India and Pakistan slide. The rest of you? Quit bitching.) I can only think of one issue of the top of my head that deserves "crisis" consideration - securing loose nuclear weapons generated by the fall of the Soviet Union. Which, of course, none of our politicians talk much about.

So yeah, I appreciate Obama's determination, but I really wish he wouldn't make mountains out of relative molehills.

Appropriate Mencken quote of the day: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins."

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