# Lyndon Baines Johnson

Open thread on what the inauguration means to you

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has been posting some readers’ thoughts about what Barack Obama’s nomination means to them.

Please use this thread to post any of your own thoughts and feelings, as well as your hopes and dreams for the beginning of Obama’s presidency.

Although I am the Iowa blogosphere’s resident Obamaskeptic, I find it incredibly moving that my children will have no memory of a time when people questioned whether a black person could be elected president.

I have a long wish list for what a Democratic president can accomplish with the help of a Democratic Congress, but if I had to boil it down to just one thing, I hope that Obama will seize the mandate he has to enact big change, and not water things down too much in the name of bipartisanship.

I’m talking about changes that will still affect people’s lives decades into the future. At MyDD bruh3 compiled this impressive list of programs and laws enacted during LBJ’s presidency. We can’t imagine the U.S. without these things. The Republicans don’t even pretend to be against them anymore.

Also in this thread, feel free to share your celebration plans for tomorrow. If I weren’t trying to lose a few pounds, I would bake Abraham Lincoln’s favorite cake (recipe courtesy of Obama Foodorama).

UPDATE: I watched the ceremony through Obama’s speech at a party organized by people who used to work on the Biden campaign in Iowa. They were cheering and clapping and even giving some standing ovations. Fun atmosphere.

Courtesy of Daily Kos, I am putting the text of Obama’s address (as prepared for delivery) after the jump. It was a good speech, I thought.

What did you think?

Incidentally, Obama did not flub the oath of office–Chief Justice John Roberts did.

SECOND UPDATE: A few more thoughts. In general, the speech struck me as quite low-key. There were very few applause lines. I assume he purposely did not want to feed into a mood of celebration. Maybe he was trying to lower expectations or not come across as taunting the opposition, but for whatever reason, he didn’t give that enormous crowd many chances to go wild.

Like Deeth, I thought it was noteworthy that Obama mentioned “non-believers” along with the various religions we have in this country. Perhaps that was a gesture toward people who were upset that Obama chose Rick Warren to deliver the invocation.

Speaking of which, I disagreed with Obama’s decision to bestow that honor on Warren, but I am glad the crowd was respectful during the prayer. I am certainly not going to give conservatives the satisfaction of getting bent out of shape because Warren mentioned Jesus and recited the Lord’s Prayer. What Warren was going to say or not say at the inauguration itself wasn’t the issue for me.

I am genuinely surprised that Jeff Angelo found Obama’s speech to be “full of petty shots [at] his predecessor.” Huh? For what it’s worth, this Iowa conservative blogger also felt Obama was “smacking down” George Bush. In contrast, Krusty Konservative described the speech as “ambiguous,” noting that “George W. Bush could have given the same exact speech.”

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Delusions of the people-powered movement

A while back I stopped reading the “Edwards should endorse Obama” diaries at Daily Kos, because I was tired of getting drawn into arguments with Hillary-haters in the comment threads. Moreover, I really don’t care whether John Edwards endorses a candidate–it wouldn’t change my feelings about either of the contenders.

When Elizabeth Edwards recently confirmed that she prefers Hillary’s health-care plan and will appear alongside Clinton when she campaigns in North Carolina, some of the Obama fans at Daily Kos went ballistic. Again, I avoided those diaries, because I am tired of trying to explain to people that yes, many health-care experts agree that some form of individual mandates are needed in order to provide truly universal health care.

Today longtime Edwards supporter Benny put up a rant at the EENRblog about somebody’s open letter pleading with Elizabeth Edwards to endorse Obama. I wasn’t planning to read the diary Benny was complaining about, but edgery highlighted an amazing assertion that prompted me to click over.

This statement in Bcgntn’s diary is what grabbed my attention:

Senator Clinton may believe without Lyndon Johnson the Civil Rights Act 1964 would not have come into being.  I recall those years.  People were out on the streets in protest.  The community concluded it was time for a change.  The President merely signed the papers.  

I’ve written before about how annoyed I was in January when the Obama campaign took Hillary’s comments about LBJ and twisted them into some allegedly racist remark denigrating Martin Luther King Jr.

But that’s not my main point today. What that Obama supporter wrote reflects a fantasy shared by too many Obama supporters, in my opinion: namely, that if he is elected, Obama is going to do what his people-powered movement demands.

One of my biggest concerns about Obama has always been that he seems likely to make far too many concessions to the Republican agenda or to DC pundits’ conventional wisdom. He has chosen not to lead on some of the key battles in the U.S. Senate. He talks a lot about finding consensus and bringing people together. His strategy for winning the open-primary states has been to maximize his support among Republicans and independents who cross over.

When you look at his very cautious voting record and avoidance of leading on any controversial issue, it seems highly unlikely to me that he will govern like a progressive. There will be many days when Obama has to choose between doing what Tim Russert and David Broder would like, and doing what the Obama fans at Daily Kos would like, and I think the Kossacks will be the disappointed ones on those days.

I’ve raised this point with several thoughtful Obama supporters, such as Populista, the 14-year-old who will probably be a great progressive leader someday. The consensus seems to be that if he gets elected, Obama will have to listen to the activists who have done so much to support his presidential campaign. He has empowered people who are the change we’ve been waiting for.

This to me seems as deluded as saying that the civil rights legislation of 1964 happened because the “community concluded it was time for a change.  The President merely signed the papers.”

I am not old enough to remember 1964, but I challenge any Obama supporter to find me one historian of that period who will agree with that contention. The fact is, LBJ dragged Congress kicking and screaming to do much more on civil rights than probably any other president could have gotten passed.

Don’t discount the importance of presidential leadership. People were out in the streets protesting the Vietnam War for years before we finally got out of there.

If Obama gets elected, he will not have the clout with Congress that LBJ had. But even if he did, I simply don’t see Obama as the kind of leader who would go to the mat to push a strong progressive agenda through a resistant Congress. He seems more likely to move halfway toward the Republican position, then declare victory.

Like I always say, I would love to be proven wrong if Obama does manage to get by John McCain. But don’t imagine that the people-powered movement will be calling the shots, and President Obama will just be signing the papers.

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