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Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb.

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility."

-- President Barack Obama, Jan.

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Duff McKagan: I'm All For a New Era of Responsibility

duffletter.jpg

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb.

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility."

-- President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009

These words, spoken by President Obama on Tuesday, have thus far made me walk a little taller, taking stock of where this new weight of responsibility sits best in my gait. The air of change has been palatable in my family, on the streets, from city to city, and, I believe, the rest of the world.

From where I stand, my family appears to be what one may envision to be the average American family. My daughters are at the age when they are starting to be aware of what is going on in the world. This past election was a fun and inspiring ride for us McKagans, and Tuesday's Inaugural was much anticipated. My girls counted down the days and wondered aloud what the Obama girls would be wearing at the ceremony. My wife thinks Michelle Obama is the coolest and has just finished a biography on her. I must say I feel pretty good about having the Obama family as "example setters" for my wife and two girls. For me? I aspire to do whatever President Obama needs of me. I certainly couldn't have said this about any previous president (Clinton came into office when I was, let's say, retarded by outside substances).

As I watched the CNN broadcast of the Inauguration, many different strong images filled the TV screen: Dick Cheney addled to a wheelchair and about to take a VERY uncomfortable limo ride with his adversary and new VP, Joe Biden (I would have loved to be a "fly on the wall" there!). Obama's new Presidential car (dubbed "the Beast"), surrounded by the omnipresent Secret Service. Bush's last walk from the White House highlighted the ridiculousness of him even being there AT ALL! Two million people attending the ceremony on the National Mall gave weight to the importance of a needed  sea-change.


Obama's speech was again a work of brilliance, even "in the midst of a crisis now understood." At a time of economic downturn, our troops abroad and this most recent crisis in the Middle East, Obama addressed the "gathering clouds and raging storms...sapping our confidence." He also rather pointedly scoffed at the Bush administration and the wearing-thin of its political "dogma... rejecting as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." Pretty heady and ballsy stuff indeed. Obama talked about global warming and talked TO world leaders who blame their problems on the West. I think it was just as important HOW he worded the things that he said. Obama's articulation of speech not only ensures us voters that we have the "smartest guy in the room," it also has a manner of steadfastness that will, I believe, garner respect from other world leaders ready to perhaps pounce on a weakness.

I received a couple of startlingly different e-mails from two friends after the speech. "GOBAMA!" friend #1 says, "What a great fucking speech. I love the toughness and emphasis on acting like a grown-up. And it's such a relief to again have a president who is not afraid to be articulate in his speeches." The second friend went in another direction completely. "Eeek!" he stated. "Lofty emotionalism with no depth. Going further into debt to stave off debt? I don't need pep rallies; I need to know exactly how you're going to manage our many crises. Government trying to fix problems that they created is just ironic...RON PAUL in 2012!"

I could have pointed out to friend #2 that an Inauguration is not the place that a president would actually state his exact plan to manage "our many crises," and that it is actually more of a "pep rally" than anything else. Also, Roosevelt actually saved this country just 70 years ago by creating more initial debt with his New Deal.

The difference between these two e-mails I think highlights more about the way we choose to look at the future than maybe any facts that we have to go on about it. We have some pretty hearty work in front of us as a nation. It is our right to criticize our politicians, for sure, but perhaps right now we would all be better off if we tried to see the "right" in Obama's plan before we just shoot them down or go chanting "Ron Paul in 2012!".

I for one have been an Obama supporter since day number one. He is a guy that is just plain smart in my opinion. People who have read my column have criticized me about my support being too "blind," and maybe they are right. But I have never seen our country in such a hard spot as it is now, and I think only intelligence will get us out and move us forward and upward. Intellect will be able to understand monetary and fiscal complexities. Intellect also knows the history of age-old tribal warfare in the Middle East. Intellect understands that we are in a global economy while also realizing that we have mountains of economic troubles within our borders. Hey, Obama even sees that college football needs a playoff system put in place. Now THAT is smart!

As a father, I feel a bit more secure today with Obama as our President. As a world traveler, I feel a bit more dignified to be an American. As a citizen of the world, I am a bit more proud of what humanity is capable of. America may indeed be united as it never has been before.

When my girls got home from school on Tuesday, my youngest went straight to her room. Upon my checking on her, she informed me that she was writing a letter to President Obama and another to Michelle Obama. But the important one was to be addressed to Malia and Sasha Obama. "I am going to tell THEM what their Dad should do as President." Don't tell the rest of the world this, but Daddies will do what their daughters ask of them, and that is for sure.

 
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