This transition of power irritated me on so many levels. I didn't watch a lot of the lead-up coverage. I did watch him being sworn in. I didn't watch his speech. I read it later for the same reason I don't watch Steve Jobs' keynotes. I don't want the content colored by the delivery. That was about all I could take of spectacle. My irritation kept me from most of the event. Here's what bothers me about the whole deal.
Where's the outrage that he's our first African-American president?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is 45 years old (or will be on its birthday this July. The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified 99 years before that. That's 144 years during which the fine people of the United States couldn't get their act together and get over race-based bigotry. I'm an American. I'm proud I'm an American. But I'm not ashamed to say that we have a large, hairy wart on our nose.
That said, Barack Obama should not be our first African-American president. He should be our second, perhaps our third, African-American president.
Could we possibly have commercialized this a little bit more?
Is there anything on which imprinting our president's face is beneath dignity? I am proud to say that I have not joined the throngs of people who bought anything they could lay their hand on that had Obama's face on it. I don't have a picture of Obama as the wallpaper on my iPhone. That is reserved for my dogs (a fact that has not escaped the attention of my wife). I don't have the canvas bag that they sold at the National Mall with a big picture of Obama on it. The Franklin Mint should not expect a call from me. If offered, I will not be purchasing the Barack Obama commemorative paper towels or toilet paper if anyone is stupid enough and offensive enough to make them. However, I'm certain that many will be purchasing the official Obama Inauguration Certificate of Attendance for only $14.95. Now the ad in the Washington Post says they're $19.95. That's awfully quick to lower the price. I don't think they're selling like hot cakes. Perhaps they should have followed Geico's example and gotten Mrs. Butterworth to sponsor the product.
More people need to recognize what's really going on here?
George Bush is a very unpopular president for reasons he both does and does not deserve. However, what we should be celebrating here is not that Barack Obama has come to save us all from all the evils visited upon us by former president Bush. What we are celebrating here is that the United States has finally elected the best candidate in spite of the color of his skin. We have our first African-American president...finally! Let's not overstate what's happening here because the expectations of this man are outgrowing what any person could possibly fulfill. Please realize that Barack Obama is a human being working within a broken system. The expectations of him are growing into a gigantic letdown later on down the road.
Why are people pinning so many of their hopes on this man?
Think back to all of the best things that happened in your life? I think back on mine. There was meeting and marrying my wife. There was the day I got my first job. There was the birth of my niece and nephew. There were a lot of other things and what makes them all alike is that none of them emanated from government. I bet if you think back, you'll find the same thing to be true.
Did we forget he's a politician?
My feelings on politicians are sufficiently well explained in this blog. I respect the man for his accomplishments. I respect him in the office he holds because he is the president. I have no respect for his chosen profession. He has chosen a path that requires him to promise many things. These promises break down as follows:
70%: Never had any intention of pursuing these promises.
10%: Would like to do but will get killed because he has 535 other politicians, lobbyists, and worst of all, his own party leadership to deal with.
10%: Will get accomplished but will be so mutilated by pork, compromise, concessions, and the usual machinations of politics.
10%: Won't have time for because he'll only be president eight years.
I hope Obama is a successful president. We can't afford a failure. In the end, no matter how successful he is, he will likely be like any other president. He will be blamed things he didn't cause. He will be credited for things he didn't accomplish. The distant eyes of history will look upon him differently than we will during the next eight years. Just don't expect miracles. They don't come from Washington.