William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NOTHING – AT 6:07 P.M. ET:  That's pretty much the assessment of all but the most fanatical Obamiacs about the president's second inaugural address. Chris Matthews, of course, compared it to the Gettysburg Address.  But if Obama made a grocery list, Matthews would compare it to the Gettysburg Address.

Mr. Obama gave an unmemorable, partisan speech, demonstrating once again that, while he's a fine speaker, he's an inadequate speechmaker.  We will remember nothing.

It is foreign policy that I look to most.  It was the wisdom of the postwar generation, the last truly mature generation we produced, that instructed us that you can take four years of a bad domestic policy, but four years of a bad foreign policy could be fatal.  Americans once accepted that truth, but they no longer do.  Foreign policy has become an asterisk in our national discussion.

And so President Obama devoted only a small part of his speech to foreign threats.  He said, "A decade of war is now ending," a statement blatantly ridiculous.  As several conservative commentators have already responded, some of our enemies apparently haven't been told.  Obama will end a decade of war by simply withdrawing.  Attacks in Benghazi, in Algeria, in Afghanistan, are of little interest.  Obama, in addition, said, "But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well."  Hmm.  That statement is self-indicting, for the president conceded that we first had to win a war before winning the peace.  We had to defeat Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, and then turn them into friends. 

But for Barack Obama, the word "victory" has no meaning in the modern world.  We are not winning, we are losing, and this president still does not understand how the world loathes a loser.

Tomorrow we return to business.  As we do, I wish some staffer at the White House would gently remind the president, and the yes-men around him, that Mitt Romney got 47% of the vote in November, not 17%, and that Republicans control the House and most governorships.  You'd never know it from the way the president spoke today. 

History does not stand still.  Conditions will change.  Even the current generation of journalists will eventually fade away, leaving a failed legacy.  There is still hope.

January 21, 2013