Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Morning In America

I woke up early enough (remember, I'm retired) to see the important parts of the Inauguration, the entrance of the notables through the Benediction. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Wow, that's a lot of people. I'll be curious to see what the attendance numbers were for this Inauguration compared to the past several (back to Carter, or even Kennedy). 
  • I hear the crabs complaining that $150 mil was spent on the various events, the most ever. Considering that my guess is that this Inauguration has generated the largest attendance ever, and I'm guessing this is breaking the record by a factor of, oh, 2 or more, that's not a big surprise. Certainly the security is going to be very high as there are still people in our country who want to judge people by their racial background and not by their acts or motives.
  • How wonderful to have a person representing this country who can speak in public. Sure, he bobbled the Oath of Office a bit, but I see that as showing that he recognized the import of the occasion. 
  • I saw a letter to the editor today that said that "true" change will come when a woman takes the Oath. At first, I dismissed this, thinking that African Americans emerged first from systematic bondage to at least nominal equal protection and opportunity over a 100 year period, and then I realized that many black men could vote decades before women could, and that women are still fighting to keep their reproductive rights in an era when African Americans largely don't have to fight these sorts of legal battles. The day we stop caring what someone looks like who runs for office is the day we can put these sorts of concerns to rest. 
  • Dick Cheney, arguably the most powerful man in the world, leaves office in a wheelchair. An incredibly apt metaphor for the condition he leaves the country in. Hopefully both will recover. 
  • Now comes the hard part. 
I say now to those who felt incredible relief when Bill Clinton left office, that the joy and elation you felt to see a man whom you felt had no morals, who would do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted for whatever reason he felt like, that the joy and elation some of us now feel in exactly the same situation is no less valid, real, or great. History will judge both presidents, but you'll pardon me if I say that somehow torture, unnecessary and unjust war, secrecy, invasion of privacy, incompetence in the aftermath of natural disaster, politicization of what should have been the most partisan-free element of the federal government (Justice), disregard of the rule of law, and the myriad other sins of the Bush administration seem to be just a little more compelling than lying about a blowjob or crimes of similar magnitude. 

Many of us gave GWB the benefit of the doubt when he became president. It says a lot about those who label the new President a "confidence man" (Rick Lowry) before he's signed a single law. Bush had at the very least a pretty cushy job to start, and a prosperous and respected nation to lead. Obama begins with no room for error, a trampled Constitution, and multiple foreign crises, from Korea to Gaza. Perhaps this might be a good time to give him the benefit of the doubt for at least a little while before you go sharpening *your* knives, seeing as it's in all of our best interests that he is successful. 

Today, I feel like the Who's at the end of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Our cupboards are bare, our presents stolen, and yet we stand and sing praise to the day, because we believe that some things are more important than ideology or winning at all costs and against all common sense. We see a bright future, and a bright leader to inspire us, because in the end it's not his job to fix our foundering ship, it is all of our jobs to do so. And that is what Barack Obama represents, a renewed belief that America really *is* of the people, for the people, and by the people. For too long, it's been very hard to believe that. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard the speech but couldn't get through on the net during the oath. From what I've read Roberts bobbled it, Obama paused to give him an opportunity to correct himself, and when Roberts screwed it up again, Obama just said heck with it and repeated Roberts' misstatements.

It's probably harder to read the Constitution lately to practice such things given the state it's in.

Ah well, today at least, is a happy one.

- Matthew