(HOST) In 1985, commentator Madeleine Kunin made history when she became Vermont’s first woman governor. Today she is thinking about the historic significance of Barak Obama’s inauguration – and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
(KUNIN) At twelve noon today Barack Obama became President of the United States. It seemed as if the whole world cheered.
The throngs of people who made it to the mall and could bear witness to the event will talk about it to their children and grandchildren. Those of us who watched the swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural address from the warmth of our living rooms with family and friends were not left out – we were there, with him and for him.
I cannot remember a moment of greater national jubilation. Today, President Obama has achieved his primary goal: he has united the country, and he has presented a new face of America to the world.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln’s words in his first inaugural address, Obama appealed to the better angels of our nature.
Some eighty percent of the American public approve of him, an extraordinary show of unity.
Underneath the near universal feeling of exultation, there is also trepidation. Can one man turn this country around to fix the overwhelming problems that America faces, stop the free-fall of the economy, carry an olive branch to the war-torn parts of the world, and bring civility and collegiality to the democratic process here at home?
There are indications, according to the polls, that the country is willing to be patient, at least for a while. Almost everyone has experienced some pain in this economic downturn, whether it is loss of retirement funds, or loss of a job, or a home. We know the problems that face us cannot be solved with a quick fix. The question remains, how long will it take, and how long can we wait?
We do not know. What we do know today is that we have elected a President who has the love, good will, and overwhelming support of a nation that is looking to him for fair, thoughtful, and strong leadership.
We know that he is a man who has shown by the appointments he has made that he values expertise and intelligence and welcomes healthy debate. We know he is a man who understands who he is after a long process of self discovery; we know that he and his family are role models for the nation; and, most importantly, we know we trust him to help us find the right path.
He knows, and we know, that he cannot do it alone. The ecstatic celebrations today do more than give us a temporary feeling of optimism. The celebrations around this inauguration have bound us together as a nation; not only to applaud in unison, but to work in unison, to believe once again that anything is possible. He has succeeded in helping re-kindle the better angels of our nature.