Tuesday, January 20, 2009

inauguration day

watching the ritual proceedings on CNN at the Guilford Library, with a hundred other people, mostly older women, was a powerful experience. but seeing the sea of tiny flags fluttering in the shimmering distance of the Mall made me wish i were there. i had toyed with the idea the night before: to leave at 3 am and drive to an outlying metro station, or somewhere i could park and ride a bike in. but sara has been unwell. and when i researched the traffic situation online it looked so daunting -- what if i could not find anywhere to park? what if i could not find the commuter bus stops in maryland? so i gave up.

cheney in a wheelchair was somehow so fitting -- sinister and pathetic at the same time.

malia holding up her camera, filming intently, made us all smile. frankly, it is probably a good way for her to deal with the madness she is engulfed in.

CNN showed shots of crowds watching the event in other cities. we saw a middle aged woman in pasadena contemplating the screen, when suddenly her face jumped with surprise. we realized she had seen her own face, and everyone laughed.

elizabeth alexander's poem was weak, unfortunately. it was soft, prosaic. i had looked forward to having a poem read.

i did not like obama's hard, "we will defeat you" refrain. why do a couple of thousand terrorists merit such attention in our national moment? china has 1.4 billion people, and they did not get the privilege of such an exclusive address. unfortunately, obama is putting on the "war on terror" rhetoric, not uncritically, but putting it on nonetheless. it is an armor in a fake war that will drag him down.

the reverend Lowery's benediction was great, especially the final, rhymed refrain about the various races: about black not having to "get back," about yellow being "mellow," brown "sticking around," and about white "doing what's right." it was good to laugh after ritual so weighty the chief justice fumbled the oath of office.

warren's prayer was well-spoken and soaring, though i too objected to his choice to give the prayer. i thought his enunciation of jesus' name in different languages (hebrew, arabic, spanish) was good.

most of the time i dwelled on the Obama's beautiful faces, glowing in the sun. most of all i enjoyed obama's postures of reflection: eyes closed or almost so, hearing the music wash over him, a subtle smile spreading, but mouth still set, stern, focused. thank god (and gods) that we have a serious person in the white house, one not afraid to think and challenge -- even himself. one who knows that words matter, or should matter.

bush was not a megalomaniac, which some conservative bloggers on red state.com claim leftists are saying. far from it. he was a small, insecure person with no ideas and no courage, clinging to existing structures and puffing himself up by standing atop them. remember his puffed-up walk on the deck of the carrier he landed on early in the iraq war? his arrogance was a function of his weakness and ignorance.

No comments: