January 27, 2009

Inauguration Trip: Final thoughts

The dot on the right side of the picture is President Bush leaving D.C. on a
Marine helicopter following the inauguration on Jan. 20.

Well, Barack Obama has been our president for exactly one week. How's it going?

I'm pretty sure he hasn't solved all of our problems yet. I'm also pretty sure he hasn't ruined the country yet, either. (People will probably disagree on both points, but so it goes.)

Looking back on the inauguration, my biggest surprise was how unemotional the day was. Yeah, I've seen the pictures of people crying and read the stories of how meaningful the day was. No doubt it was a truly historic moment for many people.

But I don't think that was the story of the inauguration. I don't even think Obama was the story. It was all about George W. Bush.

Obama's big nights came when he won his first primaries, won the nomination and then won the presidency. Through that whole time, Obama's election was in doubt and his victories led to tremendous releases of excitement from his supporters.

The inauguration was different. He'd already won, named his cabinet and was working on a stimulus plan. Obama taking the presidential oath was inevitable, and inevitability doesn't make for compelling theater.

Nope, the inauguration was a villain's tale. Long before the ceremony began, I realized people were going to boo President Bush. I hoped they wouldn't, but you could feel the animosity building as Carter, Bush Sr. and Clinton walked in. When Bush finally appeared, the crowd hammered him.

It was a sad, classless moment. But I don't blame the crowd. The economy is in ruins, we have two forgotten wars and the planet pretty much hates us. It takes real effort to create so many grave problems in such a short amount of time. Bush and Cheney earned those boos.

The inauguration wasn't about swearing in our nation's first African-American president. It was about saying good-bye to one of the most unpopular presidents in our nation's history.

The moment I'll most remember from the inauguration is standing on the National Mall after the ceremony and seeing a green helicopter appear over the Capitol and fly west toward the Lincoln Memorial. Scattered groups of people waived their hands and shouted good-bye to George Bush as the Marine helicopter carried him away.

Who knows what lies ahead for President Obama. It maybe a similar exit in the wake of a Republican hopeful elected to reshape the nation for the better. But for one moment, the empty rhetoric of change felt real as standing on the ground. A week later, it's faded, replaced by politics, infighting and growing unemployment.

Obama isn't our first African-American president. He's our president, and that entails. Feel-good emotions ended Nov. 2. Now, it's time for everyone to get down to work.

1 comment:

  1. Obama - the most desirable intellectually astute individual ready to take command and be in charge at a time like this. He is surrounded by a plentiful array of experienced individuals.

    Now if the jealous republicans don't jazz it up.