Some Thoughts on the Inauguration
January 20th, 2009
What follows is not a structured commentary but rather some random thoughts on the inauguration.
Rick Warren: Warren’s performance continued to highlight what an unfortunate choice it was to select him for the inaugural invocation. His inflection and style lacked gravitas and humility and at times he seemed false and fawning. I watched the ceremonies in a local coffee shop and the crowd laughed when he verbally caressed the names of the President’s daughters.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee should have closely observed his praying style before announcing Warren. Had they done so, they might have made another selection. Or perhaps they did and wanted what they got.
Vice-Presidential Oath: I wonder why the Veep has an oath that is so much longer than the President’s. It seems that this oath is not stipulated by the Constitution and so they use the same one used by Senators.
Swearing In: Did Roberts not make clear to the President that he would be offering whole sentences rather than small word coupling? And then Roberts screwed up where “faithfully” was placed in the oath.
I would never accuse the man of intentional sabotage, but it does remind us that when President Obama was a Senator he voted against confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts.
Presidential Address: This was a good speech. It began with the usual platitudes and was full of generic rhetoric, but it also gave indications where this administration will view the world with different eyes than the last. Specific references to restoring “science to its rightful place”, and “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” suggest direct policy changes while more general references hint at priorities that will change.
What saddened me was the continuation of excluding gay persons from any reference in the grand fabric of the nation. Of course some will dismiss this as an overreaching demand for such a small community, but Jews and Muslims – both much smaller populations in America – received specific reference. As much as I hope and wish for meaningful change for our community, I now fear that gay Americans are seen as a less insignificant part of Barack Obama’s America.
Benediction: Bless Rev. Lowery, but if anyone less prestigious had given that prayer they could not have carried it off. “The Red Man can get ahead, man”? Yikes!!
But I am particularly pleased that the reverend said:
And now, O Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance. And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family.
Considering the press surrounding Warren and his selection, it seemed to me that Lowery was speaking directly of the rights of gay Americans and the recognition of their relationships.
CNN: I found it of questionable taste that throughout the President’s speech they kept finding and focusing on an elderly black person. They stayed too long and the audience members’ shock of recognition of themselves on screen was distracting from the speech. And after a while it ceased seeming a confirmation of the fulfillment of a promise and began to take on a feeling of pandering and condescension. I hope that in the future media outlets can recall that this is the President of all Americans, not just old black Americans, and that we all should join together to provide our support for his leadership.
Finally, this was a joyous occasion. We should, as a nation, together hope and support and celebrate this new chapter in the history of our country. Because be we Democrats or Republicans, young or old, gay or straight, black or white or brown or chartreuse, we are Americans and Barack Obama is our President.