Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reflections on the inauguration . . . 

A great day and a demonstration of just why the US is an object of fascination in so much of the world.  The heady mix of public theater, human idiosyncrasy and raw power; the sheer audacity of this country rapturously giving their highest office to a black man.  The power of institutions that can so casually relegate G. W. Bush to political irrelevancy.  The vast crowd assembled to do nothing but witness and celebrate in frigid cold.

It made me laugh to hear that some of the pundits were disappointed that Obama's speech didn't produce any carve-into-granite catch phrases.   But Obama wasn't polishing his legacy with rhetorical flourishes, he was seizing an audience of tens of millions and he was communicating with them clearly and compellingly.  He was making his case.  I have no doubt that the punditocracy finds this unsettling and threatening.  (Not to over-dramaticize, but they cast themselves in the role of the old clergy who used Latin and other obfuscations to maintain their place as middlemen between the layperson and Truth.)  Obama did his best I think to bypass their summations.

Some progressives were annoyed by the fact that Rick Warren, an anti-gay evangelical preacher, gave the invocation, but I have to say that the juxtaposition between his prayer at the beginning and the Reverend Lowery's benediction at the end was not kind to Warren.  When it came to spiritual charisma, Warren was the nicely packaged bottled water next to the earthy wellspring that was Rev. Lowery.