I don’t have this thought often, but today I wish I were in America. All my family and friends there are positively giddy in the lead-up to Barack Obama being sworn in as our nation’s 44th President. I’d love to share it with them; I don’t recall an uplifted American mood like this in my lifetime. Perhaps there are older DODR readers who recall John F. Kennedy’s ascension? My grandmother had a framed photo of him on her wall until the day she died in 1991.
It’s late and been a long (good) day – I’m not sure I’ll make it to the live feed of the Inaugural Address – and I don’t have much to say. So I’ll turn it over to one Robert Creamer. I’d never heard of him, but his short essay over at The Huffington Post about Obama's vibrant, inspirational political tone and activity versus the catastrophe of the last eight years is excellent. Here are three choice excerpts:
“It just doesn't square with the right wing narrative. They painted Barack Obama as an unpatriotic, ‘terrorist sympathizing’ candidate whose values are foreign to the American way of life. How could it be that his ascendance to the presidency should be the occasion for the new patriotic spirit sweeping America?”
“Eight years ago, my wife, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, decided that – as painful as it was – she should attend the swearing in of George W. Bush. I accompanied her and sat with the other Congressional spouses. Most of the spouses that year were Republicans women who were decked out in diamonds and furs. Bush's speech was pretty unremarkable, with few applause lines - at least until he called for tax cuts. With that the fur bedecked spouse section leapt to its feet and gave the new president a standing ovation. How far we had come from ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’”
“Tomorrow will be a day that Americans will remember for years to come. It will be a day when most Americans – whatever their partisan bent – will feel particularly good about our country. But it will also be a day when people around the globe look at America differently than they did the day before. And they too will be inspired that everyday Americans mobilized successfully to take our country back – that America did not fail them. The world will celebrate that we chose to chart a future governed by the American principles that they have long admired – not the arrogance and selfishness they had come to loath.”
Please share your thoughts in the comments (Christian has promised to be on his best behavior).
Update: What a great inaugural address, a wonderful moment for America and, hopefully, the world as a whole. The size of the crowd was almost inconceivable, approaching that of the entire population of Mongolia! There's some good-natured joking around the Buddhist blogs that we were overlooked in this excerpt from the speech, but to paraphrase one commenter, as Buddhists, we don't believe in our way of life, we practice it. In any case, Obama's sentiment here is gorgeous:
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
Update II: Oh, I just love this. The 7th Graders at Harlem Village Academies blog their reactions to Obama's swearing-in and address.