Tuesday, January 20, 2009
President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
Since I only have an afternoon class to teach at UC-Irvine, I was able to watch almost all of the festivities on TV from out here in Southern California. Now, at the end of the day, I want to write down my thoughts.
Though I am an Obama critic, there is nothing negative I can say about him tonight. He and Michelle have acquitted themselves beautifully today and with great grace. His speech was not the usual stem winder, rather it was short, sober and succinct. He is my president now, and in a time of great challenge for our nation, I wish him well. I can only hope that he will steer a middle course. If he does, I think he can have a successful presidency. We should all hope that his is a successful presidency. Does that mean I won't criticize him when I think appropriate? No, I will continue to exercise my freedom of speech, which this great country allows us to do.
Nevertheless, this was an historic day, and what left the most lasting impression on me was seeing the expressions on the faces of so many African-Americans in the crowd in Washington. One cannot help but be touched by that sight and what President Barack Obama means to them. I hope he will not let them down. Black America has so many challenges, but if this gives them the feeling that they can indeed make it in our country, then who can feel bad about that? Perhaps this will refute the messages of people like Louis Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright and the New Black Panther Party. But who knows? Tonight Washington DC is a city celebrating across all racial lines. Can it last?
As I write this, I just watched him at the Commander-in-Chief Ball talking via satellite with a group of Illinois soldiers serving in Afghanistan and polling them on the important question-were they Cub fans or White Sox fans? (Obama is a White Sox fan.) Being a Cub fan, it brought a smile to my usually cynical face-especially when most of the troops said they were Cub fans.
There were a couple of bad moments. Of course, the first was the seizure of Senator Ted Kennedy that necessitated taking him to the hospital. Sadly, as President Bush appeared on the dais for the swearing-in ceremony, some nitwits on the west side of the Capitol began chanting that stupid "Na na, na na- hey, hey,hey-goodbye" chant. Bush, in his always graceful manner, ignored them. This is the man who had eggs thrown at his car in the first inaugural in 2001. This is the man who for eight years was called every name in the book by his political opponents. Today, as always, he bore it with dignity.
In that same vein, the incident was reported by some reporter for National Public Radio (NPR) with some degree of amusement. This from that "non-partisan", publicly funded radio channel. And just last night on MSNBC, that jerk Keith Olbermann was again calling on Obama to prosecute Bush for war crimes and conducting torture of the poor terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (he was waterboarded).
Then there was Her Royal Highness, Hillary Clinton, button-holing Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) at the luncheon in the Rotunda and engaging him in a heated conversation as to why he was insisting on an open debate and up or down vote on her confirmation hearing-as opposed to a rubber stamp acclamation. (Cornyn is concerned about the conflict of interest issue-as he and everybody else should be.)
But enough of the negative. I won't even go into a discussion of that awful "poet", Elizabeth Alexander and her rambling whatever-it-was she read. I had never heard of her, so I did a little Googling, and....if you've never read any of her "poetry"....you don't want to.
But enough of the negative. Congratulations to President Obama. What this remarkable man has accomplished is mind-boggling, and I wish him well in his presidency. This country needs him to be successful. I am not so jubilant about him as millions of others, but anyone who loves their country has to wish him well.