by Jeremy Leaming
Hardly surprising – though rather entertaining – is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reaction to President Obama’s second Inaugural Address. McConnell bemoaned the speech as marking a return to “The Era of Liberalism.” This is the same fellow who went before a right-wing outfit early in Obama’s first term to proclaim his top priority was to ensure there would be no second Obama term.
He’s also the leader of a gang of obstructionists in the Senate – ensuring that the president’s picks for the federal bench had to wait lengthy periods before getting a confirmation vote, if they even got that. All too often McConnell succeeded in scuttling nominations, helping to lead to a historic vacancy rate on the federal bench.
The Huffington Post reported McConnell saying today, “One thing is clear from the president’s speech: The era of liberalism is back. His unabashedly far-left-of-center inaugural speech certainly brings back memories of the Democratic Party in ages of past.”
I’m not close to McConnell’s age; I can only read about the periods of a progressive Democratic Party. Sorry Clinton fans, but President Bill Clinton was no liberal. From trashing the nation’s social safety net to harassing the LGBT community with a string of oppressive policies, including the ignoble Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Clinton swiftly dragged the Democratic Party rightward.
But when Obama declared that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action,” and when he lauded Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, saying that those New Deal era programs have not produced a “nation of takers,” it was bound to send right wingers and promoters of austerity measures over the edge. (See here for video of the Inauguration, including the president’s address.)
And of course the president didn’t stop there. Unlike his predecessors, he highlighted gays and lesbians and their struggle for equality, linking it to other great civil rights movements.
The president took several shots at the wobbly and cold-hearted economic policies peddled by conservatives and sounded a ringing endorsement of a nation’s quest for equality. It was an incredibly moving address, made more enjoyable by the overwrought reactions from the apologists and defenders of the nation’s most powerful.