Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

At the door heading into work, H said that she was going to watch on a little TV in her office. In facility manager's J's office, rows of screens devoted to security cameras had a couple turned to the inauguration. Boss N told us to be flexible with our lunches, so I took her at her word and went down to Mosaic Church, which opened its doors to lunch crowds with two big screens turned to CNN.

We got there just as Rick Warren was winding up his prayer. Was it just me or didn't he pronounce "Malia and Sasha" with some extra verve? I started to laugh before choking it down.

Aretha Franklin was great. I loved her outfit.

And then Justice John Roberts screwed up the oath! Dad tells me that Roberts once had the sort of screw-up lawyers have nightmares about. He was one day late filing a Writ of Certiorari for a case to be considered by the Supreme Court. The Court is strict about those things; one day late and your client is out. He only had one job today. Just one. Give the oath. It isn't even long. And he blew it. The first African American president sworn in. A sound bite for the ages. But instead both men will stumble through that oath for digital eternity. Somewhere out there, a former client who got his appeal killed by a late filing is saying, "I knew that guy would screw it up!"

Listening to NPR afterword, the critiques said more to me about what we have come to expect from inaugural speeches as opposed to the virtue of the speech itself. I liked that it wasn't built for applause lines. I liked that it was more sober than soaring. I did wonder at the emphasis are hard times. That is more the posture of a candidate. As a president the emphasis necessarily shifts. Stick to the FDR/Reagan model of optimism in the face challenges vs the Carter model. Beware the Carter model. Obama skated close to Carterian gloom in content, but it speaks to his skills as a speech maker that he can pull off an unimpassioned reality check as an inauguration address.

The Lowery benediction was hilarious. Was that a hymn he was reading to start or was he purposefully rhyming? And then the ditty at the end. The crowd I was in of mostly African Americans groaned at the "white will embrace what is right" line, but given the context of the original I can't imagine anyone minding. Then there was the call and response and the shot of Obama grinning with his head bowed. That might have been my favorite part.

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About Me

Little Rock, Arkansas
I work at a local museum, date a lovely boy, and with my free time procrastinate on things like blogs.