Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Thoughts

We know this is supposed to be a blog about intellectual property and entertainment law. And it certainly will be going forward. But today is such a historic day that we did not think we could let is pass without a few comments.

Without showing our age too quickly, let us just say that we have been watching U.S. elections and inaugurations with great interest since JFK’s election in 1960 and inauguration in 1961. This is the first inauguration I can remember, however, which I truly regret not attending in person – windchill factor and all. The sights, sounds and enthusiasm of the millions of people on the streets of Washington, D.C. these last several days has been inspiring at a time when we truly need inspiration. As the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said recently, great change in America happens when a substantial number of people feel connected to the government and the American system rather than disconnected and inward-looking. She speculated that the number of people who have enthusiastically shown up in Washington to watch and participate in this transfer of power signals that kind of change in the mood of the American people. We submit that this last election was proof enough of that.

The question now becomes whether President Obama can marshal the expertise, dedication and energy that is necessary to fix what ails us as a country. There is no need for us to list the problems we are now facing – they have been discussed in print, on TV and radio, and in living rooms and bars across this country for months.
We believe there is little doubt that the new President is smart and dedicated and that he is in the process of assembling the kind of team that is necessary to help correct the problems we are currently facing. But will it work? No one knows for sure. But we are cautiously optimistic. We recall the speech JFK gave in May 1961 when he said that we would land a man on the moon and land him safely back on earth within 10 years. Everyone thought he had rocks in his head. But we did it because we applied ourselves to the task at hand. We think that is a good example of the Herculean effort that is now required. And just like we did not land a man on the moon overnight, we probably will not fight our way out of our current economic turmoil overnight. But we take some measure of comfort in knowing that we have new leadership that is genuinely dedicated to trying and has the skill and talent to make it happen if we all do our parts and keep our wits about us. To paraphrase what one of our clients said at lunch last week: “I didn’t vote for Obama and I have some questions about his economic policies. But anyone who wishes him ill and doesn’t want him to succeed doesn’t have the best interests of America at heart”. We could not agree more.

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