Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration (Barack Hussein Obama) Day!


I've had to teach from 11 am to 12:30 pm this morning, so I wasn't able to see or hear any of the Inauguration proceedings after--of all things--Rick Warren's invocation, but I'm reading and trying to catch video of everything (the swearing in, Elizabeth Alexander's poem, the inaugural address, etc.), and will post more later. Nevertheless,

CONGRATULATIONS
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN




and congratulations once again and a lifetime of thank yous to my fellow Americans, those who voted and those who couldn't but did what they could, to elect these two people to our nation's highest offices!

***

I'll be posting our new president's sober but moving speech in a new entry.

Some of my favorite ideas and lines include: his call to a duty and service beyond just ourselves or our country, but also to the world; the idea that military power alone is insufficient and doesn't entitle the US to do as it pleases, and that this country must display more humility and restraint; the statement that the market isn't not the ultimate arbiter of the nation's success; how his father could not have eaten at a Washington lunchcounter 60 years ago, and now he, Obama, stands before the nation and world as the new president; his remarks to the Muslim world, to foes, to the world's poor, and to other rich nations, about friendship, alliance, interdependence, and responsibility; the citation of Isaiah 52:1-2, "Arise, and shake off the dust" (which also made me think of Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulders"), as we have been in an ever-deepening abyss these last 8 years; and one little echo of Winston Churchill's remarkable 1940 War Speech to the House of Commons, with the citation "that we did not turn our back nor...falter." While my cursory read-through didn't reveal any striking or unforgettable metaphors, rhetorically the few moments of anaphora ("On this day," "For us," "This is the price....This is the source.... This is the meaning") do convey real conviction. I think we can safely say that while this didn't match the poetry of Kennedy's only inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt's first, or Lincoln's second, it was pretty thorough and pretty good.

4 comments:

  1. And - no more Bush! Check my blog tonight, you will get an award.

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  2. I think we all hoped he would bust a 'classic phrase' a la "Nothing to fear but Fear Itself" (which no one noticed that day, btw, but was only recognized as newspapers printed the transcript), but so what if he didn't? Good, solid speech in any case, and the beginning of a New Era. ("What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them...."!)

    And I couldn't hold back the tears anymore when he noted how his father probably couldn't sit at DC lunch counters 60 years ago -- particularly since some of my family were part of sit ins just up the road in Annapolis

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  3. John,

    (I was also struck by the Isaiah echo in Jay-Z with Obama's citation.) Watched the swearing in at the workplace, on a huge display with streaming video, among mostly-younger colleagues; with folks, but alone in my thoughts.

    Literary; idealistic; pragmatic. I feel good.

    --Bill

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