Tag Archives: inauguration

Oppa inauguration style


K-pop star and Internet sensation Psy has a message to South Korea’s new president:South Korea Flag Icon

Heyyyyyy, sexy lady.

Conservative Park Geun-hye (박근혜), the daughter of Park Chun-hee (박정희), the authoritarian leader of South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s widely credited with engineering Korea’s economic growth, was inaugurated on Tuesday as South Korea’s first female president following a convincing victory in the December 2012 presidential election over liberal candidate Moon Jae-in (문재인).

She marked her first day in office with an otherwise somber inaugural address that served mostly as a warning to North Korea to cease its nuclear tests and to dismantle its nuclear weapons program:

“North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people,” Park said outside the national assembly building in the South Korean capital. “Make no mistake, the biggest victim will be North Korea itself.”

Referencing her father’s astoundingly successful economic program, Park also called for a ‘2nd miracle on the Han River’ — Park promised to preside over a happier Korea after a shaking transition period that saw her first choice for prime minister withdraw over a real estate scandal.  Park herself has already met sharp criticism over her own apparent backtracking on her campaign commitment to address economic democratization — essentially, income inequality issues in South Korea.

For one day, though, it seems that a happier Korea began with a performance by Psy, who kicked off a decidedly much less somber start to the Park era.

Don’t rule out Joe Biden in 2016 U.S. presidential election


Although today’s been a big day for U.S. president Barack Obama, it’s been nearly as big a day for his vice president, Joseph Biden, who was also sworn in for a second term as vice president — and a vice president who’s had a very important role to play in the Obama administration with respect to foreign policy.USflag

Biden, who first ran for president in 1988, and who served in the Senate from Delaware from 1973 until becoming vice president in 2009, hasn’t exactly made it a secret that he harbors presidential ambitions in the future.

Even if Biden ultimately decides against a run, his ability to project a credible shot at a 2016 campaign means that he won’t descend into lame-duck status over the next four years, which means he’ll be as relevant as ever on international policymaking.

He’s had a few good news cycles recently, and as outgoing secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton starts to bid farewell to the limelight to consider the next stage of her own career, it’s worth noting that if Clinton and Biden both run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, Biden won’t be a pushover — though Clinton is currently very much the favorite.  Biden, who’s 70, isn’t so much older than Clinton, age 65 and recently subject to her own health scare (Ronald Reagan was the oldest person to be inaugurated, at age 69 when he took office in 1981).

Even The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein thinks Biden is a serious contender.

So in between bouncing around inaugural balls, here are five quick points on why you can’t dismiss Biden — and why he’ll continue to retain political currency on the U.S. foreign policy conversation as 2016 approaches: Continue reading Don’t rule out Joe Biden in 2016 U.S. presidential election

Subdued Obama 2nd inauguration contrasts with Bush’s sweeping 2nd inaugural address

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U.S. president Barack Obama was inaugurated today — on the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States and with a touching invocation from Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of the slain Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers on the 50th anniversary of his assassination — to somewhat less excitement than in the aftermath of his historic 2008 victory.USflag

In line with that subdued spirit, Obama’s second inaugural address matched the rhythm of a presidency that’s now very much focused on achieving a handful of legislative accomplishments — a more stable budget deal with Congressional Republicans, immigration reform, gun control.  Obama’s address notably and deliberately shouldered the responsibility to address global climate change. In many ways, it was a ballsy speech, and it had the cadence of a campaign address more than the flowery, if vapid, prose of typical inaugural addresses.

While Obama’s reelection, as I wrote a couple of months ago, will have real consequences for international affairs and world politics, his inaugural address did not prominently feature U.S. foreign policy, though it was impossible not to understand the weight of his declaration that “a decade of war is now ending.”

For me, the one sweeping passage on foreign policy was among the strongest of the entire speech:

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

Most notably, today’s address wasn’t broadly focused on foreign policy, in the same mould of, say, George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural address, which outlined a broad and ambitious project for the spread of U.S.-style democracy to the Middle East — it’s worth recalling the sweeping prose from that address eight years ago:

 We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world…. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world….

Bush’s address indicated that he was putting even longtime allies, such as Saudi Arabia on warning, as well as any country that failed to feature the hallmarks of liberal democracy.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

Of course, Bush’s second term fell far below the ambitions of his first term — the quagmire of Iraq’s civil war, the continued fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan against a zombie Taliban effort, ongoing questions about torture and abuse of detainees by U.S. troops and their allies — all contributed to pull attention away from Bush’s cherished democratizing mission.  Bush himself, as well as his ailing father, former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, did not attend today’s inauguration.

So today’s address, in what feels like a vastly different era, didn’t purport to signal a sweeping new doctrine to the world.  But it stands, in many ways, as a clear refutation to the high-water mark of the Bush-era rhetoric about the role of the United States in the world.

Hollande inaugurated, names Ayrault as prime minister, flies to Berlin

Newly inaugurated president François Hollande’s flight was struck by lightning en route to Berlin earlier today to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel — hopefully, not an omen of things to come.

Omen or not, Hollande cannot expect to have any honeymoon after a subdued inauguration.

Hollande also named longtime ally Jean-Marc Ayrault as his prime minister. Ayrault, the president of the Parti socialiste parliamentary group in the Assemblée nationale since 1997, had been considered among the frontrunners for the position.

In his brief address, Hollande emphasized many of the same themes of his campaign: that budget discipline must not come at the expense of potential GDP growth:

“Power will be exercised at the summit of the state with dignity and simplicity,” Hollande declared in an inaugural address to Socialist leaders, trade unionists, military officers, churchmen and officials.

“Europe needs plans. It needs solidarity. It needs growth,” he said, renewing his vow to turn the page on austerity and invest for the future, and implicitly underlining his differences with Merkel.

“To our partners I will propose a new pact that links a necessary reduction in public debt with indispensable economic stimulus,” he said.

“And I will tell them of our continent’s need in such an unstable world to protect not only its values but its interests.”