Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Putting Away Childish Things

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  First Corinthians 13:11.

“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.” President Barack Hussein Obama.

I love good sermons. I appreciate good sermons as high social art. Solo spoken oration is dying out. It still exists in its best sense as a sermon. When you give a sermon you’re casting your fate to the wind. There’s no middle ground. You either hit the bulls-eye or flail around hoping someone puts you out of your misery. As does the congregation. Giving a sermon takes cojones. It is not for the meek or the easily slighted. Most sermons suck.  

The cadence and pauses and diminuendo and crescendo and largo and rubato of a good sermon are as well defined as any orchestral score. The spoken voice has definite pitch; and good sermons have a pitched melody that you can score. They have rests and whole notes and dotted eighths and triplets. The spoken human voice is more like a pitched drum than an oboe. It is mostly percussion with a dash of pitch. It’s all about timing and negative space. A good sermon is alive with alliteration.  Praise the Angles, Saxons and Jutes from whom the English language obtained the alliterative. Beowulf the change you believe in.

Lots of folks were hoping Barack would give us an ethereal balls to the walls Wagnerian Robesonian whoop de doop Sermon on the Mall.

But M.C. Hussein did us all one better and for the better– he played against expectation, caught us by surprise and in doing so, pulled off a true and real performance win.

Obama started out with a somewhat clunky, warty and unpolished tone, as if to say: “All this pomp and Aretha’s propellor are the shizzle, no question, but have you all checked to see how fucked this jackass over here has left us?”

Obama refused to give the crowd what it wanted — the soaring, sky high, Blue Angels, majestic ObamaVision version of “Secular Humanist Mission Accomplished” — because as he said in quoting First Corinthians — it is time to put away such childish things. No analog to codpiece. No flight jacket. No aircraft carrier. No insipid self-unaware Alfred E. Neuman spewing smirk and false sincerity over acres of dead and maimed and crippled human bodies. No string section, fake or real. No applause lines. No shit.

No. Obama hid his Solomonic sermonic virtuosity under a bushel and gave the assembled 2 billion parishioners a dry and hard dose of Olde Time Calvinism that would make Increase Mather, William Bradford and Daniel Gookins proud of the big-eared kid from the big-shouldered city along the lake the Ojibwa call Michigan:

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

Pass the ice cold shower, hard tack and hair shirts !!!

Pennsylvania Ave. pain sticks at Zero Dark Thirty !!!

Yowza !!!

This ain’t no Country Club Presidency.

But this train is bound for glory.



  1. …of homilies and the ars rhetoricus. You’ve saved me having to write a diary about this myself.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a political speech on such a ceremonial occasion. No wonder the former president (whathisname?) looked so uncomfortable behind President Obama. The inaugural address was a thorough demolition of everything whathisname stood for in terms of torture, foreign alliances, the constitution, energy policy, deregulated markets, political gridlock.

    I know that the pundits are bemoaning the lack of a one liner, and complained there ‘wasn’t a single unified theme’. But let them get it wrong now. They got it so wrong in the last year. This was a prelude to action, and set out a clear and pretty radical agenda in so many policy areas that I don’t think Washington and the Punditocracy are quite going to know what hit it.

    Yesterday was a day to be an American, and revel in one of your country’s quasi sacred moments of democratic validation. But I, for one, am completely struck by his devastating critique of the last eight years (and more) and his agenda, especially when it comes to oil dependency, foreign policy alliances, and the battle of ideas and values.  

  2. DeniseVelez

    For me, his address was a preemptive strike.  Carping critics who say that he is simply an empty suit of flowery rhetoric and oratory had their puffed up balloon-heads punctured by the sobriety and solidity of the speech.  

    Those who expected it to be chock full of Abe Lincoln, or FDR, or even JFK had to be bemused by Barack’s harking back to George Washington.

    Rachel Maddow made me laugh last night – she stated jokingly that the most important thing that happened yesterday was not the speech itself, but its impact and then went on to show a clip of Pat Buchanan who was enthralled.

    Disarming the right wing – truly Barack is brilliant.

    Read this part of Kathleen Parker’s response in today’s Post:

    Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, extremities numb despite layers of wool, and seeing so many gathered to witness this thing they called “change” was, dare I say it, awesome. That most-annoying hipster term for anything remotely acceptable is suddenly useful for its intended purpose.

    For awe is the truest word to describe what transpired and what was inspired.

    It is not only awe for Obama’s meteoric rise to the highest human power. It is not only that so many trekked so far to be present for the moment. It is not even awe for the peaceful transfer of power for which Americans are deservedly proud.

    It is awe for what is, in fact, not change, but the natural, if difficult, progression of an ideal that is true and good and transcendent through time. Barack Obama’s presidency isn’t a change from, but a continuation of the American experiment toward its hoped-for destination.

    Obama hinted at this in his speech by invoking American values of hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism. In honoring all those who came before, who fought and died from Concord and Gettysburg to Normandy and Khe Sanh, he reminded us that change is not a single event on Election Day, but an evolutionary process.

    The change we’ve been waiting for? No, the goal we were always aiming for. Americans really do believe in the dreams of our Founding Fathers, who envisioned and articulated what is at our human core — the profound desire for a more perfect union. The vast majority of Americans really do believe, as Obama said Tuesday, in the “God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

    And so, Barack Obama, biracial offspring of the American dream, came to be president.

    It is now the day after. Work awaits, bills remain, wars persist. The afterglow is hard to sustain as the promise of yesterday becomes tomorrow’s challenges. Armor on, cameras whirring, pens poised. The march toward a more perfect union continues.

    I agree with what the rest of you have posted.  Now was not the time for flowery rhetoric.  Yes, it was very Calvinist in its sobriety.  And more powerful just for that reason.

  3. For posting Rev. Lowery’s benediction. I love him !!! Watch his face when he says “the Black man don’t have to get back, man …” He starts chuckling cuz he knows that nobody expects what’s coming. And watch Obama’s face when Lowery says, “When the red man can get ahead, man.” Obama can’t stop grinning ear to ear.

    That is how you end a sermon.

  4. Kysen

    Obama has a knack for hitting the proper tone….even if it is not the tone that everyone expected. I have listened to it full through three times now…beaming. President Barack Hussein Obama. I hope to hear him speak many many times in the future….he may not always hit ‘the note’ expected, but, I expect he will near always hit the one that is needed.

    Rev. Lowery’s Benediction was definitely a highlight for me. My first thought when I saw him was “dude’s old…bet he has seen a he never thought he’d see this”….then he began to speak and I was locked to the screen. By the time he finished…he got a loud ‘Amen’ from Kysen. I was mad impressed. Still am.

    Yesterday was magnificent.

    Thank you for this diary…Highly rec’d.  😉

  5. but probably the one that needed to be heard.

    What Obama did here was to frame the debate and to set the agenda. He repudiated almost everything that was done in the last 8 years and explained why we need to change those policies. If the country agrees with what Obama said in his speech then it doesn’t agree with the Republicans. This puts him in a much stronger position. I’m impressed.

  6. creamer

     Not the soaring rhetoric I expected, more of a sober analysis of the road ahead. Today the press is not talking about what a great orator he is, its talking about the work he is starting. He’s sending a message, its time to go to work, follow me.  

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