Presidential inauguration speeches are tricky as they provide a relatively short amount of time to outline the POTUS’ vision for the next four years, whilst paying lip service to the current concerns of the population. Due to this time restriction, many things get a passing mention while other things are put front and center. This was certainly the case with President Obama’s 2013 inauguration speech today, which reaffirmed the ‘promise of our democracy’ and what it means to be an American but was vague on everything else — especially climate change and alternative energy.
To be fair, President Obama had a lot to include in his 2013 inaugural address – healthcare reform, the economic downturn, two wars, same-sex marriage and the ‘reasoned debate’ over gun control. Considering that 2012 brought the worst droughts in US history and Hurricane Sandy (which recently ravaged New York and New Jersey), you would have thought that climate change would have been one of the main topics of the speech – however it was one small paragraph among many:
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
Very poetic, but a bit light on substance. Of course, if the President were to outline all his policies in detail then his speech would go on all day – but one can’t help but wish he had gone into a few specifics. Will alternative energy receive government support? Will President Obama continue to increase US oil production? How exactly will the path be long and difficult? So many questions and so little detail – we’ll have to look to the next four years to see what will happen.
For a full transcript of President Obama’s 2013 inaugural address, click here.