Posted by: lcowie | December 11, 2008

Final

Disgruntled McCain supporters predict cliche Obama inauguration speech

Community wants military to be main emphasis, not economy

by Lesley Cowie

The president-elect’s inauguration speech is always an important event because it is the first time that the new president takes office and addresses the nation. According to local Elon citizens, Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on Jan. 20 will not be more exhilarating than any other inaugural speech in the past.

Albeit Obama made history for being the first African-American president to be elected, many members of the Elon community believe he will discuss the same subjects that presidents have discussed in the past.

Randy Piland takes a break from grading communications papers to discuss Obama's inaugural speech.

Randy Piland takes a break from grading communications papers to discuss Obama's inaugural speech.

Randy Piland, a lecturer in the School of Communications, believes that Obama will talk about the subjects needed most at this time but will make sure that people get what they want to hear.

“His [Obama’s] rhetoric has always been what people want to hear,” Piland said. “I think his rhetoric will rally America. I’m all about the office of president, not who the president is. Whoever’s in there will get ridiculed if they say something wrong.”

Piland went on to say that Obama’s inaugural address will take the form of all inaugural addresses that the public has seen in the past. In the end, he said, the country needs to rally and support the president no matter what he says.

“We’ll see what he can do, but realistically he’s like any president with a big challenge ahead of him,” Piland said.

Multiple McCain supporters are not looking forward to hearing Obama repeat the same ideas that he discussed on the campaign trail. Corporal Jay Snow of the Burlington Police Department said he expected to hear more about change.

“Obama talked about change on the campaign trail, right?” Snow asked. “He’s probably going to talk more about hope and change. He’s going to be just as vague as he was during the campaign. What he needs to do is make Americans feel they can spend again.”

Is the economy a top priority?

Very few members of the community listed the economy as a subject that they wanted Obama to address in his inaugural speech. Many expect Obama to spend time on that issue, rather than addressing other issues that Americans care equally about.

Alex Kreitman, online editor of the Burlington Times-News, defends Obama’s struggle over the economy and hopes that Americans will find Obama’s words comforting.

President-elect Barack Obama will address the nation with his inaugural speech on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. Photo courtesy of the US Senate.

President-elect Barack Obama will address the nation with his inaugural speech on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. Photo courtesy of the US Senate.

“I would like to see President-elect Obama continue to reach out to Americans during his inaugural address by giving a country facing tough economic times more hope,” Kreitman said. “His speech will be the most-watched event in the history of the world, and I think a positive presence is a must.”

Kreitman went on to note that Obama should stay away from comparing Republicans and Democrats in his speech. According to Kreitman, Obama needs to let Americans know that he is going to work with everyone to bring Americans out of hard times.

Looking at subjects other than the economy

When asked what topics they would like to hear Obama address, many Elon and Burlington residents listed issues beyond the economy.

Rudolph Singleton, an Aramark employee with Elon University, discussed his hopes for world peace.

“Obama needs to pull the nation back together,” Singleton said. “There need to be no big ‘I’s’ and little ‘You’s.’ Everybody needs to be equal. We need to stop fighting against one another.”

Makaila McKinley, a junior at Elon, cited her father’s Naval experience as the impetus for why she believes Obama should talk about the military.

“I think he should talk about the military because I don’t want to surrender,” she said. “I know he wouldn’t say something like that. I think he’ll say words but really talk about the concerns of his own people. He’ll talk about his Socialist views and about taxes.”

McKinley said that she expected to receive money from her father’s GI Bill to help pay for her college tuition. Because she does not receive this money, McKinley wants to know what Obama plans to do with military pay and the GI Bill.

Overall, McKinley does not believe that Obama’s inauguration speech will have a lasting impact on Americans. People are expecting Obama’s speech to be comparable to the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., she said, but it is not going to be like that.

Kristina McLaughlin, manager of Family Video in Burlington, hopes to hear about the military as well. She wants to know when the troops are coming home.

McLaughlin also hopes that Obama will address real issues that Americans have, like health care and gas prices.

“Lately the gas prices have been going down,” she said. “I want to know if it’s going to stay that way or if they are going back up.”

Though microcosmic, these interviews illustrate how some McCain supporters feel now that the election is over. Approximately half of those interviewed admitted to having not voted for Barack Obama. With Obama’s inauguration a little over a month away, these members of the community are still skeptical of Obama’s abilities.

Elon senior Katie Reese discusses her trip to Washington, D.C. and what she hopes Obama will address during his inaugural speech.

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