I woke up at 8:00 this morning.
I jumped up and tried to get my wife up and awake. We do not have cable, so we had to go to her parents house to watch the inauguration, which was to start in half an hour.
I threw on a Barack Obama shirt I bought specifically for this day, out on a quartet of Obama buttons, brushed my hair and teeth (with different brushes), and ran out the door, wife in tow. Before I drove off, I made sure my bumper sticker was still attached: January 20th, 2009. A day that will live on in infamy.
Those who have followed my blog know that I am not a huge fan of Obama. I am, however, a far bigger fan of his than McCain… or Bush. I suppose I support the evil of the lesser over the lesser of two evils.
I watched the inauguration on CNN. The day apeared to be bright and clear, albeit cold (apparently 28 degrees). There were swarms of people– well over two million. I saw many famous faces and many nameless faces, but they all were beaming with pride, joy, and anticipation. I could feel myself smiling, actually.
When Bush came out, to the song Hail to the Chief, I thought I would boo or grimace. I actually had no response. He seemed annoyed or depressed– or both. Nonetheless, he was gracious and kind, as he had been all throughout the transition. This was Bush’s finest moment.
One of my favorite moments was the Oath of Office. Not only did Obama screw up the beginning of the speech, he also was tripped up by Justice Roberts’ screwing up of the Oath. Though the Oath was delivered clumsily, it nonetheless was a moment of levity and importance.
Obama’s speech, which was bold, strong, and extended a hand of peace and friendship to the world, also made reference to the plight of African Americans. His speech was full of allusions to songs and sayings from the Civil Rights movement. Though it was a great speech, I did not really feel like there was an FDR or JFK moment.
After a poem and benediction, Obama walked the Bushes to a helicopter, which was flying him to Edward’s Air Force base where he would be flown to Texas, where he was to attend a welcome home party. As I said to my wife, they can have him. The Obamas and Bushes stood side by side, as Vice President Joe Biden escorted former ( :} ) Vice President Dick Cheney into his limousine, which was taking him home. Then, after farewell hugs, George W. and Laura Bush got into the helicopter. In a moment that caused me to think back to Richard Nixon’s farewell wave, Bush turned and waved goodbye to his Presidency, which now belonged to President Obama and America. As the helicopter flew over Washington, peope waved– not a happy wave, but a wave that seemed to say, “Good riddance.”
I’m very happy today. Change may come gradually, or not at all. But I do sense that Obama will break with Bush’s policies over the last 8 years. I hope he is successful. I hope he does bring change. I am heartened to hear that he wants to appoint a middle-east envoy today, and that he wants to tackle the issue immediately– not just the tension over Gaza, but the overall peace process that has eluded every U.S. President.