Inauguration Day

I can’t tear myself away from the inauguration coverage, so I’m not sure how much I will have to say beyond what everyone else is saying. One moment has already stood out: seeing Michelle Obama emerging from Blair House and waving to the crowd as she accompanied Barack to church. I’ve seen her plenty of times in local coverage over the years, and it was startling to see her in this context. It was like she was waving goodbye.

Watching the swearing in ceremony on television I can’t help but assume that people participating in the ceremony have more perfectly formed thoughts than I have watching the action from afar. Surely George Bush must have had a twinge of regret when Obama said “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” Surely Dick Cheney must have been aware that he looked like Dr. Strangelove.

The speech itself? I’m glad to see that Obama didn’t try for any memorable lines like Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you.” At his most forceful he spoke directly to the present, how people are feeling right now, which is an unusually intelligent and subtle approach. It was a speech by someone who reads, a lot.

Watching Obama at the luncheon, on the parade route, looking in two ways.

  1. Staring at the image of Obama, more avidly before he takes the oath than after, looking for more meaning. No matter how banal the image, it is not replete. It isn’t boring.
  2. Looking at the figure of the new president in context, trying to recreate the real, what the experience of being there is like, to make it normal. To make it boring.

Get back in the car! For there are some things that I cannot bear to see.



  1. Your response, too: I did wonder a bit yesterday if you’d get out there, be one with it totally.)
    The ambivalence: subtle, intelligent.
    Evidently the author reads a lot!


  2. Richard:
    Throughout the time I have read your blog you have ususally written the serious work of a scholar; a critic. You have, on occassion, been very funny. The funny stuff I usually enjoy the most as I have not had to use any dormant intelligence to “get it”. However, I cannot recall when you have been the poet you were when you wrote this piece.
    Thank you


  3. Thank you Mano and Ruby. I’m glad you liked the post. Everyone else had a lot to say about it, so I just tried to articulate what it was like to watch the inaugural from where I was sitting.


Leave a Reply to Ruby Dundee Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s