The Scientific Activist

As the day’s inauguration festivities approach their finale, if you’re anything like me the whole experience still feels a bit surreal. However, thinking back to Obama’s inauguration address, the one part that really stands out in my mind came from the middle, when he spoke about national security and civil liberties. Specifically, the following paragraph, which begins at the 9-minute mark in the video below:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

(Full text here.)

Surely, though, the best part–intentionally or not–was the subtly ironic camera work that accompanied this passage. Beginning at 9:22 in the video, just seconds after Obama “reject[s] as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” the video feed switches to an extended shot of a smug-as-always outgoing President Bush.

That shot elicited a few laughs from the audience I was with, but it was a poignant reminder of the change happening in Washington at the very moment I write this.