Tuesday, January 20, 2009The Old Chief Is Gone; Hail To The Chief
I've spent the whole day today trying to think of something insightful and witty to write about President Obama's inauguration, and have come up empty. Perhaps one of the definitions of an historic event is that there isn't anything to be added to it -- it simply happens, and the only commentary possible is the way we change as a result.
I can say that I got what I wanted from the address. I was looking for some hard truth -- that our country is a mess, that the way we've been conducting ourselves is no longer tenable, and that hard work and sacrifice will be necessary for us to recover. But I also heard a determination to get things back on track, and most important of all, a promise that no more time will be wasted. Because that, ultimately, is how I view the Bush years in retrospect: valuable time wasted. Lives wasted. Energy wasted. Effort, goodwill, and credibility, all wasted.
Dubya didn't look like he was having a good day. What with booing crowds, his final escort from office, and the barely-tempered public rebuke from his successor, I would imagine that today was a sharp slap of reality for him. It would be enough to earn my sympathy, if he hadn't so thoroughly earned every bit of it.
I know for a fact that I will frequently disagree with Obama -- I already do on a number of points. The presence of Rick Warren, while I understand the thought behind it, leaves an icky taste in my mouth. And seriously, Aretha is great, but she should be living in graceful retirement from public performance, at least on that scale -- she started out fine, but a 66-year-old voice hasn't got the flexibility to warble the way she insists upon warbling. (Personally, I think Mavis Staples would've been the perfect choice, but nobody asked my opinion.) I was irritated by Obama's decision to defend telecom immunity; I hope in coming months he'll be more aggressive about investigating wrongdoing by the exiting administration. Those who do not remember the past, etc.
But for now, all I want is to be able to read tomorrow evening that during his first full day in office, Obama did something constructive. It doesn't even matter what it is -- just that will be enough for me, for now.
Here in Portland, it seems we are newly embroiled in a mayoral scandal, not even three weeks after our new mayor was sworn in. This is a little discouraging; there's something about this city that seems to inspire our mayors to get skeezy with people who are too damn young. The funny thing is, from what I can gather, the first guy to do this was one of the most influential mayors the city has ever had, largely shaping what Portland has since become. And this new mayor appeared to have the potential to be the next such influential mayor, except without all that icky having-sex-with-a-borderline-minor business. Except that, well, ewww.
Oh well... politicians are just politicians, after all. Even the once-in-a-generation ones.
Congratulations to everyone on surviving the Bush years. I'm a long, long way from Canary Wharf Underground, where I first learned from an Evening Standard barker that he'd been installed in the White House. The dejection I felt that day has finally found a happy resolution.
PS: Today, incidentally, also marks twelve years(!) since I met my lovely Christopher. He is still, after all this time, one of my best friends. Much love to Smithers.
PPS: See? Didn't even have to wait until tomorrow -- the Obama administration is already in action. And this as well. That's what I voted for. |