Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Banner Day.

Big day. Big day, everybody!

I was so excited to watch the inauguration. I love big traditional ceremonies like that. I just really get into the pomp and circumstance of it all. My office mates and I all crowded into a conference room to watch it via the Internet, a solid plan until the bandwidth gave way to the trillion people trying to access the same feed. We ended up with limited visual, but full audio, which for me was just fine (I considered it like a fireside chat- so retro!) I was remarking during the broadcast that even the sound of the marine core band tugged at my heart strings (I choose not to comment on the song stylings- or HAT- of Aretha Franklin.) As for the speech itself, I fully expected to be wow-ed (like him or not, you have to admit he’s an inspiring speaker). But when he started I thought we were headed for the most depressing speech ever at an inauguration:

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

But I respected his honesty and willingness to acknowledge the situation. Sure, an entire day of parades, smiling faces, fancy outfits and an evening of elaborate parties are a bit in congruent with our current economic situation. But his words reflected both sides of the times. Yes, we're facing problems as a nation, but we can't (or in my opinion shouldn't) stop living or expressing joy. In true Obama style, he didn't dwell in negativity or hopelessness, choosing to quickly spin our troubles into opportunity for growth.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.
And though much of the speech was inevitably going to be nothing more than historical sound bytes, or political rhetoric, I thought he did a good job of summing up his view for the presidency (even if it was spoken of in somewhat impractically broad terms...that's fine- for now).
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's knowledge will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
So after all was said and done (and said, and said, and said in some of the pundits' cases) I feel it was a monumental day. I have a cautious, sometimes cynical view of the future, but I can't shake the feeling that I witnessed greatness today. It was stirring to see how many people were emphatically supportive of today's events, especially in the wake of years of division and doubt of our system as a whole. I know that only time will tell, but on this day I am proud to be aboard the Obama bandwagon.
But let's take a moment to focus on the truly important aspects of the day. Beyond all the inspiring words, and the lofty goals, there was something really uplifting: Fashion!
Everyone is already scrutinizing what Michelle and her girls wore, and the spotlight will only get brighter as the balls and galas begin in the coming days. For what its worth: I loved Barack's scarf (the bold color was gorgeous!), I'm indifferent to Michelle's ensemble (the color was brilliant, the fabric and construction weren't as impressive), and the girls looked like living American Girl Dolls (absolutely precious!) But I think more pressing than the First Family's choices were the correspondents' get-ups. Witness:

What exactly is going on with this CNN anchor? Did she rush back to the news desk from her part time position at a renaissance fair? Is she trying to inject a little dominatrix style into democracy? Just wrong.

But perhaps even more alarming than that was this atrocity (forgive the quality of the photo, turns out style mistakes of this magnitude are difficult to capture on film):

Take note: Hearing that "black folk" are coming to town does not give your yuppie self the excuse to don a church lady hat. And was there a sale on hot pink and black apparel? Apparently admittance into the CNN society is based not on experience or education, but on your ability to coordinate your ensemble to Avril Lavigne's MySpace page.
So, there are my thoughts- which pretty much run the gamut between surreal, and all too real. But I suppose that is about right. What about you, did you watch? Were you inspired? Skeptical? Hopeful? Discuss...

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