The Other First Step


So I did step away from my self-absorbed ramblings long enough to catch the inauguration. I was listening to the radio and thought to myself, “Did I hear that right?” Mr. Cool, Mr. Organized, flubbed up twice during the oath? Or was that just Chief Justice Roberts trying to make him look bad? (I’m waiting for the Internet haters to emerge, if they haven’t already, to say that since the oath was not perfect, Obama’s not really president.)

The speech was fine. It did not blow me away or stir the emotions I felt back on Election Night. Yes, we face tough times, yes Americans have the strength to work together. Blah. Blah. Blah. But lest I sound too cynical, I do see a purpose in sticking to generalities and the metaphors and myths we turn to over and over again as Americans. I wasn’t expecting some detailed policy plan or certainly any repudiation of the myths that are at times less-than-helpful. In some ways, I’m not expecting a lot from this presidency; set the bar low, so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised in the end.

The sense of unity he was going for: how long will it last? And is it even universal? I imagine the Limbaughs of the world saying they respect the office, they’ll give him a chance, but they don’t mean it. And there will soon emerge pretty staunch Republican ideologues in Congress who will throw up roadblocks whenever they can, despite the gravity of the issues Obama inherits. And some Democrats too, either for principled reasons or politics, will keep Obama on a short honeymoon leash. So let the parties and balls unfold tonight, let the glow burn a few days. The reality is, it’s all downhill from here.

Man, way to go, way to be a bummer on this historic occasion. I hope events prove me wrong.


~ by mburgan on January 20, 2009.

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