I’ll admit that I didn’t do much yesterday beyond watching TV and hanging out on Twitter. And while opining in 140 characters or less — follow @rsjewell — I didn’t notice the latest debacle taking place on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 4 percent — the worst performance on any Inaugural Day since the index was established 124 years ago. As The Washington Post reports, “Sell-Off is Sobering Welcome from Wall Street.”
Well, nobody said it was going to be easy. Certainly not Obama.
Did he give a great speech yesterday? No. Particularly if great means having that one memorable line that you can chisel into marble somewhere, someday. But it was the right speech. The right message.
I don’t believe we need to “remake” America. Despite our many serious problems, we’re still doing OK. But we need to get back to doing better — much better. And that demands a return to the values that really have been the solid foundation for this country: hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism.
Obama emphasized those values yesterday — along with a call for a “new era of responsibility.” He’s saying the right things. Now he’ll have to match actions with rhetoric. And it’s going to take time.
The administration also signaled yesterday that it was serious about communicating directly to all of us via social media and online tactics. At one minute past noon, we had a new president and an updated White House website. And on the site’s first blog post, Macon Phillips, the White House’s new-media director, said WhiteHouse.gov “will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world.”
According to a Washinton Post article, “Democracy Online“:
The top three priorities of the site, Phillips wrote, are “communication,” “transparency” and “participation” — buzz words in online social networking circles. Visually, the site is a close cousin of the campaign Web site BarackObama.com and the presidential transition portal Change.gov. And just as Obama maintained an active YouTube presence during his 21-month campaign and nearly three-month transition, he will do so as president. WhiteHouse.gov added a YouTube channel shortly after Obama took office and is promising weekly video addressees.
Communication. Transparency. Participation.
Those are the right words. Now let’s make sure that the words match the reality of the new president and his administration.
By the way, I guess the feds took Obama’s BlackBerry from him. Otherwise I’m sure he would have sent me a direct message around noon yesterday from Capitol Hill via Twitter.