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viernes, 23 de enero de 2009

Desentrañando el discurso inaugural

THE U.S. PRESIDENCY
BETWEEN THE LINES: PARSING OBAMA'S SPEECH
JESSICA LEEDER
January 22, 2009


THE ECONOMY
The words
"Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also on our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."
The message
This is Mr. Obama's reprimand to the country for engaging in the behaviours that allowed the market to "spin out of control." It was a signal to the nation to prepare itself for re-regulation.
The action
Mr. Obama has already laid the groundwork for more than $800-billion (U.S.) in stimulus initiatives, in addition to the $700-billion financial-sector bailout already approved. The previous administration's efforts have been criticized for favouring large financial institutions over the needs of struggling families and small businesses, which Mr. Obama has pledged to address.
The challenge
Stimulating credit flow, rebuilding market confidence and encouraging spending could be a slow process made more difficult by the administration's intention to overhaul the country's complicated financial regulation system.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The words
"We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders. ..."
The message
In a direct shot at the Bush administration's politicization of research, Mr. Obama wasted little time in signalling his intention to put scientists in charge of science policy. The scientific community grew demoralized during the Bush era; the former president famously issued an executive order limiting stem-cell research. By contrast, Mr. Obama has vowed to consider scientific facts and research in his decision-making, and to return science to the top of the U.S. agenda.
The action
Mr. Obama has already named several top scientists to his cabinet, including Harvard University professor John Holdren as head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Mr. Obama underscored the importance of genetic research by naming lauded scientists Eric Lander and Harold Varmus as co-chairmen of the president's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology along with Dr. Holdren.
The challenge
Money. Particularly in this anemic economy, with so many competing interests looking for government handouts, it will initially be difficult to fund research.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY
The words
"We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories."
The meaning
Mr. Obama has been explicit about his desire to alter the nation's energy policy, including reducing U.S. reliance on foreign sources of power. In his speech he also noted that "the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet," a critique of the Bush administration's readiness to wage war in the Middle East while still relying heavily on oil from the region.
The action
Nobel-winning physicist Steven Chu has already been named as Mr. Obama's energy secretary. He will also head a new team specifically mandated to take on climate change. Mr. Obama pledged to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet."
The challenges
Money again. Research on alternative sources of energy is costly.

FOREIGN POLICY
The words
"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use: our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."
The meaning
This hails the return of diplomacy. He wanted the world outside the United States to know that the White House is ready to negotiate instead of dictate.
The Action
Mr. Obama promised to "responsibly leave Iraq to its people" and "forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan." Talks with Iran, North Korea and maybe Hamas are all on the table.
Challenges
He needs to wrap up one war, win another and keep a third from starting. It will be difficult to pull troops out of Iraq without imperilling the country's future, and send troops into Afghanistan without inflaming the insurgency. He also has to tamp down Iran's nuclear ambitions and keep the North Koreans from reviving theirs.

GEORGE W. BUSH
The words
"But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done."
The meaning
With Mr. Bush sitting just behind him, Mr. Obama did not temper his repudiation of his predecessor's administration. He set out to distance himself from Mr. Bush's unwillingness to risk political penalties by admitting wrongdoing and reversing course - the prime example being the entrance into Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist.
The action
On his first day in office, he prepared orders to close the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay within a year, made it harder to keep the workings of government secret, made stricter the separation between lobbying and government work, convened a war council to change the course in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The challenges
As Mr. Obama moves from speaking about being president to holding the office, he may find that change is easier to say than achieve.

UNITY AND BIPARTISANSHIP
The words
"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."
The meaning
Above all, Mr. Obama's speech was a call to action aimed to rouse Americans, regardless of age, race, sex or political orientation. Throughout his campaign, he portrayed himself as a unity candidate, someone capable of achieving compromise across political lines.
The action
He has stayed away from appointing fierce partisans to his cabinet.
The challenge
It will be difficult to remain open to the opposition once the Republicans starting hammering at his administration.

Publicado en The Globe and Mail

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