When a President delivers a televised speech from the Oval Office for the very first time, Americans look for signs of the kind of leadership the Chief Executive will demonstrate for the rest of his term. After all, the entire point of using that venue is to summon the symbols of leadership and associate them with the current occupant. Barack Obama’s first Oval Office speech gave us a look at his vision of leadership in this strange and unnerving passage:
Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny – our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.
It is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.
Well, our founding fathers didn’t have an ambiguous vision of what kind of America they wanted. They had some disputes about how to get there, but they wrote extensively, specifically, and in clear terms about their visions for the new country. The conflicts we have had have been when two or more competing and mutually exclusive visions clashed.
But more to the point, it’s hardly leadership to tell people that one has no idea of what the goal is, or how to achieve it, but all we need to do pray and we’ll somehow get … somewhere. If that’s all it takes, why do we need President Obama?
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!