Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 6:40 AM

Obama Inauguration: Take 2 (revised)

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

I was unable to see any of the inauguration festivities live; therefore, what follows are observations based solely on news reports, video clips, and transcripts.

Barack Obama Sworn In As U.S. President For A Second TermThe National Anthem

Beyoncé looked a lot better than she sounded. And she sounded terrific – even if not quite as soaring and awe-inspiring as Whitney Houston at the 1991 Super Bowl.

But then came the heartbreaking news — not only that she pulled a Brittney by lip-synching, but that Whitney did as well, which was rather like finding out that Marion Jones used steroids. Not to mention the shame of the revered Marine Corps Band fake-playing their instruments in synch with Beyoncé: what a national disgrace!

I say we establish that, henceforth, if you can’t sing the National Anthem live you should not be invited to sing it — especially on such august occasions. Did Kelly Clarkson or James Taylor lip synch? I don’t think so.

The Poem

Ever since JFK invited Robert Frost to recite a poem at his inauguration in 1961, (Democratic) presidents have considered it de rigueur. This is a good thing. And even though no Frost or Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco acquitted himself well with the reading of his (very long) “One Today.”Kudos also to Obama for helping Blanco make history as the youngest, first immigrant, first Hispanic and first openly gay person to be the Inaugural Poet.

tdy-130121-obama-swearing-in3.photoblog600The Oath

How odd that, despite all the flak they got for messing up the Oath in 2009, President Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed it again.

Only this time it was Obama’s fault, strangely having as much difficulty pronouncing the words “United States” as George W. Bush always had pronouncing the word “nuclear”.

The Speech

It is an indication of how slothful and herd-like political commentators are that most of them seemed only interested in hearing some catch phrase like “ask not what your country…” or “all we have to fear….” And, remarkably, they thought they were providing insightful commentary by declaring this address a failure because no phrase stood out for them “like that.”

Barack Obama Sworn In As U.S. President For A Second TermMeanwhile, I can cite a number that could prove every bit as memorable, including:

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations…

Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it…

We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future…

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law…

We cannot substitute spectacle for politics or treat name-calling as reasoned debate….

What these commentators fail to appreciate of course is that, just hours after he delivered it, nobody thought either FDR or JFK said anything in his inaugural address that was particularly memorable. I am convinced that in due course Obama will be quoted just as often as they are.

130122_paul_ryan_ap_605Not surprisingly, the Republican thought police issued their visceral talking points criticizing the address as not conciliatory enough … towards Republicans. Mind you, these are the same folks who issued a clarion call to all Republicans on day one of Obama’s presidency to challenge or undermine everything he says or does “to make him a one-term president,” making their criticism rather like Lance Armstrong criticizing Greg LeMond for doping.

It betrays their delusional arrogance that, despite doing all they could to destroy Obama’s presidency, Republicans still expected him to parrot their absurd “rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer” political philosophy in HIS winning inaugural address.

inaug3_20130121102718_320_240Incidentally, given the way so many Blacks condemned me for analogizing gays’ struggle for civil rights with ours, I hope they’ll forgive me for feeling some measure of vindication hearing Obama do the same in this inaugural address. More importantly, I suspect MLK would be proud that Obama channeled him on this – his national holiday – to advocate for gay civil rights.

In a similar vein, I note that my fellow Progressives are cheering Obama for championing all the things in this address that they were damning him for not championing throughout his first term. But I urge them to appreciate that if Obama had caved in to their goading “to have a backbone and fight” – instead of heeding the counsel of those of us who advised him to seek compromise and wait to fight another … term – he would have seemed no more worthy of leadership than obstructionist Republicans. In which case he would not have been on the steps of the Capitol yesterday delivering that inspiring address as the blueprint for his progressive second term.

Far too many liberals are being swayed by conservative spin about Obama’s domestic policy agenda being too unfocused and his foreign policy being too soft. Not to mention the political naivete being displayed by those who are already calling him a “sellout”.

After all, they fail to appreciate that Obama is merely planting political seeds this year (e.g., on the economy, healthcare, Iran, and even in his dealings with rabidly partisan Republicans) that he reasonably expects will blossom (i.e., pay dividends) in due course…

Of course, this means that, like the most successful presidents in modern times (namely Reagan and Clinton), Obama is perfectly prepared to sacrifice short-term popularity (and a few congressional Democrats) to ensure his re-election and presidential legacy.

(“Obama’s Swing Right Alienates Left,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 24, 2009)

59c14dd38ca24102270f6a706700e8ceThe Crowd

Expecting the crowd at this second inauguration to come anywhere close to matching the crowd at the first – either in terms of size or enthusiasm – is rather like expecting Michael Phelps to repeat his eight-gold-medal feat at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

That said, even though the estimate of nearly 1 million who attended yesterday was actually 1 million fewer than in 2009, it was still more than twice the size of the crowd that attended George W. Bush’s first inauguration in 2001.

As always the TV commentators were keen to point out the celebrities in the crowd. Alas, this led to the embarrassing spectacle of George Stephanopoulos of ABC News showing us Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell and calling him actor Morgan Freeman….

The Parade

I could not help noticing that there were more law-enforcing personnel along the parade route than spectators. Where did everybody go?! Especially since reports are that the weather could not have been more conducive… Even more distressing was the impression that the 59 groups in the inaugural parade were performing just for Obama and a few friends – given that most of the viewing stands were virtually empty.

As for the floats, the only one I was remotely interested in seeing was the one for the Tuskegee Airmen: but it must’ve been invisible because I never saw it.

What I did see, much to my dismay, was Obama looking more like a clueless valley girl than the president of the United States as he saluted the groups marching by. This is because he was chewing like a hungry cow on the Nicorette gum he uses to combat his addiction to nicotine. Reports are that he used to sneak away for puffs on his cigarettes until he mustered the will power to give them up. Well, perhaps he needs to start sneaking away to chew on his nicorettes until he musters the will power to give them up too.

president-obama-michelle-inaugural-ball-dance-videoThe Bangs and Dress(es)

Michelle is getting universal raves for her new hairstyle. But I’m not feelin’ it. It makes her look too much like a grown woman trying too hard to look young.

As for what she wore throughout the day, you might have an opinion, but I cannot possibly comment.

Ditto for the Balls, which I know from personal experience amount to little more than thousands of people packed like sardines in a stadium-size ballroom all looking like drunken penguins and fairies.

Related commentaries:

Obama’s swing right


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