Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Inauguration

I don't think I've really sat and watched a Presidential inauguration live before. If I did, I don't recall it. So Obama's may be the first one I watched live. So that may color my impressions. Of course, the fact that it was a snow day may have colored them too, since I got to stay home and watch.

It all seems too much like a coronation rather than an inauguration to me. Too much ceremony for someone taking on a job that is, in theory, simply the principle servant of the people.

Man, did Roberts bungle that oath! Probably the biggest audience he'd ever have and he couldn't get it right. That's gotta sting. But at least he didn't wear that weird gold-trimmed Chief Justice's outfit Rehnquist designed. I give him points for that.

Obama's speech I rate as a near miss. He almost hit all the right notes. He almost broke through my cynicism that he's just a man and there's only so much he can do. But not quite. The speech was good, but not great. Not a disaster, but not the Gettysburg Address either. Also, it seems to be that there must have been a section taken out right after he says something like "they say the next generation will have to settle with less" and that the US is in decline, because he followed that up with his "we will meet those challenges" bit. But after raising the specter of the US being in decline and future generations being worse off than now, I thought it was necessary for him to directly address both and say, "No, the US won't decline, no the next generation won't be worse off than their parents" or somesuch. It felt like the part where he did that was left out.

But Obama did specifically mention "nonbelievers" in his speech as part of the American body politic, in contrast to George HW Bush, who said we shouldn't be citizens. I applaud Obama being willing to acknowledge us nonbelievers on an international stage like that.

The coverage on both MSNBC and CNN was vacuous. I turned to CSPAN for part of the time. But I don't really blame the pundits and reporters... there just isn't enough to say to fill the time with all-day coverage like that. There's no way to avoid ending up saying the same things over and over and saying the most obvious, trivial stuff, if you have that much time to fill. It's a symptom of the 24-hour news cycle, I suppose, and our need for continuous coverage. But I couldn't handle it after a while. Eventually, instead of watching the parade, I switched over to USA and watched some of the House marathon, because I couldn't take it anymore.

I wasn't as happy as I thought I would be watching Bush fly away. I think I would have been happier if the Democrats had defeated him four years ago and sent him packing. But he wasn't beaten, he got his two terms and gets to fade away into the sunset. Glad to be rid of him, but it was kind of anticlimactic.

All the prayers, especially Rick Warren. Bleagh. Do you really need to remind me so many times that the most powerful people in the world actually believe they need the blessing of their invisible friend to do their jobs? Jeesh. It was a lot to sit through.

I'm glad I watched. I might not have the chance to witness such a historic event as it unfolds again. Hopefully the optimism shown at the inauguration will be repaid in the next four or eight years.


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