“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. 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.”

Stirring stuff from Barack Obama at his public inauguration ceremony in Washington early this morning. But as our friends at RenewEconomy and Climate Spectator quickly pointed out, let’s remember what he said in his first inauguration four years ago:

“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories … With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet.”

Of which Obama — who quickly backed away from pricing carbon in the face of a hostile Congress — did very little towards in his first term. In a nation lagging badly behind on climate change, don’t expect that “transition” to come quickly. Or at all.

Progressives rejoiced at Obama’s surprisingly liberal rhetoric. There was this on gay marriage:

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”

Which might be cold comfort to gay Americans in the vast majority of states that don’t allow same-s-x marriage — while Obama offered symbolic support before the election, he expressly ruled out federal intervention. Just how this administration will act to end s-xual discrimination is unclear.

It’s easy to be swept up by the President’s speeches. His biggest challenge in the next four years? Convincing those who voted for him that his words aren’t increasingly hollow.

Peter Fray

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