Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Premiering My 1st Inaugural Inauguration Thoughts

Allow me to make the unreliable claim that this is the first DC blog entry of the week that doesn't mention "inauguration," "Obama," or "Metro." Yes sir. There will be no mention of John Roberts messing up the Oath of Office's word order and pacing, nullifying Obama's legal taking of the title of POTUS (see Article II, Section I of the Constitution). Of course in the unlikely event it's ever challenged if not done again in private, the case would end up in Roberts' court. Nope, this belated entry will not dip into the political pool of opinionated posts out there.

Actually, I can't avoid writing my two cents about what went down yesterday. Ten years from now, I'll be able to look back on this post and instantly remember what insignificant things I chose to record for eternity. The blogosphere will be better for it, humanity will triumph from it, and a day will come "when black won't be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yella will be mella, when the redman can get ahead man, and when white will embrace what is right."

Wow. And to think, 1 porta-potty for every 300 attendees.

On Monday night, I was oh so close to talking myself into making a run for the events downtown.  I'd have only had myself to blame for cold extremities, using an overflowed porta-potty, and watching on a jumbotron when the warmth of my apartment, a clean toilet, and Tivo seemed so much nicer. I decided to not make the trek. Sure it would have been great to say I was there, but for what? To see Barack talk on a jumbotron; watch a parade of bulletproof, chemicalproof, anythingproof limos; and battle for Metro platform space? No thanks.

I tried watching coverage of the day's pomp and circumstance on the broadcast channels, but the blowhards kept talking about inane things, feeling the need to remind me yesterday's events were historic and would impact the future. Ya don't say? They tried cramming in so many insignificant facts like Bush #2's helicopter name change, that they were closer to NFL announcers, filling time with facts about a player's high school career, than journalists. Granted TV newscasters haven't been confused for journalists for at least two decades so it does become moot.

If only broadcasters didn't love hearing the sound of their voices with facts about Bush's chopper.

For the first time in C-Span's history, someone from my 18-35 demographic watched for more than the 1 second it takes to flip past the channel. In fact, I watched for six hours, or at least had it on in the background for that time. C-Span showed the entire ceremony, luncheon, and parade sans broadcasters; the silence was spectacular. In a most novel idea for our time, C-Span let the video and natural sound tell the story. I guess that that's how the channel presents Senate hearings and Congressional testimony. Who knew!

Leaving me to reach my own conclusions in silence was wonderful. The same cannot be said for Chief Justice Roberts' attempt at memorizing 35 words.

C-Span showed VIPs make their way through the Capitol Rotunda to their seats for the swearing-in ceremony. During this procession, everyone except for Chaney had to walk down about 30 steps before reaching the stage. Maliciously, I only watched to see someone take a mighty fall. To my dismay, the shock of cold air wasn't enough for anyone to stumble even a little. Because I never followed up on becoming President as predicted by my 6th grade classmates 17 years ago (on video in our time capsule), a clumsy trip down the Capitol steps won't happen for me.

The ceremony had very few highlights. I didn't care for the Yo-Yo Ma pre-recorded performance with Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero, and clarinetist Anthony McGil. I'm sure it was a grand collection of talent, but I thought it shouldn't have taken place between the swearing-in of the VP and the President. The poem by Elizabeth Alexander was unremarkable like all poetry read at inaugurations, while the benediction by Reverend Joseph E. Lowery was mediocre, only saved by his closing rhyme.

Olive green gloves and heels?

Obama's speech lacked any oomph or memorable phrase and won't be a top 100 speech. I can only think he did this to lower the speculatory expectations some folks have for him. He talked about changing things in Washington, but like all political ideas for change, it's not easy to undo the way things have always been done when Congress holds all the power, checks and balances be damned.

His line about putting out our hand if the other country unclenches its fist was nice, but that was more Bartleby's Book of Quotations than "Ask not what your country can do for you..." or "The only thing we have to fear...." That's fine. What he did convey in his 2,406 words was hope and that's about the only thing not going wrong these days.

A photograph of Obama in his car during the parade wasn't worth the wait and creature comfort sacrifices required.

After Obama waved goodbye to Bush #2 and completed his luncheon, it was time for the worst ordered parade ever. After the motorcades of the President and Vice-President pass, why would anyone stick around for the 10,000 marchers to follow unless they're friends or family? I think there's a limit to the number of marching bands anyone can see before they've seen'em all. It happened for me at the St. Patrick's Day parade and bagpipes. While getting a photograph of Obama walking would have been great, I wasn't about to sacrifice my backpack to get that close, and at that I would need some location luck.

I'm okay not being able to say I was at the inauguration of Obama. It was a moment to remember for sure, but saying you're there for an event doesn't have as much weight when even your camera is unable to overcome your distance from the action. I saw things just fine on my TV, perfectly warm with instant restroom access and C-Span.

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