Some random thoughts (not all of them uplifting) on watching President Obama’s second inauguration and listening to the talking heads on the various networks. Bearing in mind that I am a frustrated speech writer and admitted political junky:
Second inaugural speeches (and really all inaugural speeches) are supposed to be big picture speeches. They are a call to action but they are supposed to set the goals not write the policy. That is exactly what Mr. Obama’s speech did today. As Deval Patrick said on one of the networks he called people to “turn to each other, not on each other.” Another commentator called it a “We the People speech in the tradition of Howard Zinn.” So Bob Schaffer, I admire you, but you got it wrong when you said he should have been more specific in his plans. That is for the State of the Union speech in February. Today was a day to be inspired not told what the work plan for the next four years is.
The Reverend that gave the benediction could have used a good thesaurus or a better speechwriter. He was the second string because the first choice turned out to be a raging homophobe. I know he was blessing us but he used the word “blessing” at least 20 times in a two-minute speech. Some minor rewrites might have been in order.
Another talking head used the term “cascading fiscal cliffs” to describe the coming legislative session. Great imagery.
I found very poignant the moment when the President and his entourage were going back into the Capitol and he turned and just stood there for a several seconds looking back out over the Mall and the crowd. Savoring the moment. It was very Zen of him.
I like that the leader of the free world has an actual smile, and uses it. Four years of the Bush smirk was more than enough.
I did not stand up for the swearing-in of the President (although I would like to thank Justice Roberts for getting it right this time) but I did stand in my living room with tears in my eyes as Justice Sotomayor swore in Vice President Biden. You go, Joe and Sonja, you made my day. And Joe you are my hero, the nation’s government needs more straight talkers like you.
Chuck Schumer was the pitch perfect emcee. Good choice!
Eric Cantor further demonstrated his limits as a human being by spending his entire time at the microphone describing the Lennox Crystal he was presenting to the President and First Lady. What a waste of breathing space this man is. Hollow and shallow and what every other words for truly mediocre you can come up with.
Got a little too much of the “our troops” stuff. Need to stop creating so many veterans and take better care of the ones we have created. Enough said.
During another time-filling conversation by the talking-heads they spoke about guessing who was in the any given motorcade in DC by how many cars there were. One of them said if there were more than two limos it was “obviously not the Secretary of Agriculture.” Nice guy! What would you be eating for lunch if it weren’t for agriculture? Chew on that.
The inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, spoke of us all living under one sky, We the People, waking up to the same sun. And he is from Maine. And gay. Beyoncé hit the high notes and James Taylor got to be a political commentator for a while on NBC. Not a bad day for the professional performers.
I, personally, liked Laura Bushes sense of style better than Michelle Obama’s. I do not need to say that I think I would rather go out for a beer with the current FLOTUS than with her immediate predecessor. That said, I have to come down on the side of liking the new “bangs.” They frame her kind, smiling face very nicely. You gotta love an organic gardener.
Another commentator, when the Obamas and Bidens stopped in front of the MLK bust in the Capitol, showed his marvelous grasp of the obvious when he said there is a “direct through line between Dr. King and Mr. Obama.” Ya think?
I agree with whichever commentator it was that said Mr. Obama seems like a very balanced person. Trying to be a good Dad and a good President. Now that the girls are teenagers I hope he will have more time to work on the President thing. He has the bully pulpit; he should not shrink from using it to get all of his initiatives passed. Immigration, Same Sex Marriage, Gun Control, and “Peace on Earth Good Will Toward All Men” as he joked while signing papers in the Presidential Room of the Capitol.
The close up shots of the limo’s license plates with the DC logo “Taxation Without Representation” will warm the cockles of the hearts of my DC Statehood Green Party friends. It made me smile.
But I have to say, trying hard to steal the spotlight of the day; definitely NBC’s Al Roker so far gave the most entertaining moments to us. He stood at the side of the parade route and managed to not only get POTUS to comment on the weather but then scored the double play by getting Mr. Biden to scare the crap out of his security detail and come over to shake his hand. Way to go Al. It looked like you were having a great time and you certainly brightened my day with your antics.
Speaking of security, it saddens me when I reflect on the fact that we live in such a bat-shit crazy country that the security between the President and the people he was elected to lead and serve has to be 5 or 6 deep. And the amount of $$$$ spent on that over reaction, to what ever real or imagined threats there are, is appalling when there are children in this world hungry and cold. It lines the pockets of some powerful people so it will not go away soon. Let us just hope that we can be as sensible as we are able and remember the words of that other great inaugural speech “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”