Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Thoughts

First, the crowd looked pretty amazing. All of the reports I've seen have commented on the joyous nature of the crowd and it looked like a picture of America instead of the sea of whities that tend to make up Republican dominated events. I read that Obama has the highest approval rating going into his first term of any president, at least since Truman if I remember right. I hope that people give him time because it's going to take about four years just to begin to clean up Bush's mess.

Speaking of Bush part of me thought it was kind of funny (probably not "classy" though...) that he was booed and the crowd sang "nana na na, nana na na, hey, hey, goodbye" as his helicopter flew away. In a perfect world it would fly directly to Guantanamo while he awaited his trial for destroying the Constitution over the last eight years but as long as he goes away I'm fine with that. He almost seemed giddy to be getting the hell out of there. I'm sure that was fun to sit there and listen to Obama subtly rip apart his entire presidency. Good riddance.

Can we officially declare Dick Cheney as one of the most bizarre vice presidents ever? From the stories of the "man-sized safe" in his office to the ever-curious "undisclosed location" to shooting a guy in the face and then having that guy apologize to him he's always been weird as hell but randomly showing up in a wheelchair to be rolled around like some sort of Bond-villain or Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life" was just too perfect. Images like this certainly make for an appropriate metaphor.

What's with John Roberts? How hard is it to read your line off of a card? Way to blow it.

We had the entire thing playing on a computer in our lab but I was in and out most of the day. I think that was probably good since CNN decided that showing people eating was worthy of their coverage. The parade was alright as far as parades go. I kind of like each state sending a bunch of stuff that represents them and all of the different cultures in our country but I also identified with the kids who looked bored out of their minds and ready for a nap. That's got to be one ridiculously long day. As my PI said, "when's this mother fucker going to get to work? Enough with the parade."

Ted Kennedy trying to steal the spotlight by having a seizure? Nice. Then Senator Byrd has to check out too? I hope they didn't draw straws to be Obama's food tasters or something. The Kennedy thing led to CNN reporters saying the phrase "we're told he 'has his Irish up'" about 30 times in 2 minutes. I don't know what that means. I hope he recovers quickly.

The right wingers are so bitter about everything. They really can't stand how much the vast majority of the country is loving every minute of this. They keep whining about how Bush's inauguration wasn't as long or as expensive (it was both) and that he didn't get the love that Obama is. Hmm, perhaps that's because he just lost the popular vote and was viewed as appointed by the Supreme Court by about 51% of the country?

Shout out to science in his speech. Whoo! Science! Suck it, fundies.

There's something to be said about the way one election can change the way that America views itself and the way the rest of the world views us. I believe French President Nikolas Sarkozy remarked on this phenomena after the election but it's rings true. There are still going to be US policies I disagree with which means there are certainly going to be US policies that the rest of the world disagrees with but we're getting something of a fresh start or a do-over. Obama has an international awareness that's often been lacking among Americans and I think the rest of the world recognizes that and hopes they can work with him instead of getting the "you're with us or you're agin' us" treatment. I'm not convinced that someone with Barack's story would be elected in the majority of the European countries which makes me feel like America can once again continue moving towards truly upholding the lofty ideals written into our Constitution and national psyche. That we can be an example to other countries that want to uphold those same values. If one election and one politician can inspire us to do that, well, that's pretty cool.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

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