There’s so many things to write about today. There’s so many ideas or moments or points to reflect upon.
For instance, I do not believe like a lot of people that George W. Bush or Dick Cheney are bad people, or have evil intent.
Like most people who discover themselves out of their league, they merely became single minded of purpose. They circled their mental wagons around ideas that seemed sound, but ignored history, and reality. I don’t especially believe we can rightly call their administration "the worst ever." Such a determination will take time, decades, to fully rate the ramifications. I do believe their administration took actions that were unamerican, and unconstitutional. The men themselves weren’t unamerican, but they were (and still are) blinded by that most dangerous of virtues: moral certainty. Their actions thus, have been damaging to our country as well as to our heritage and reputation.
But such things are quickly undone. I read as I write this from my Twitter feed, that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual has just ordered an immediate and full suspension of all pending Bush administration regulations. And I see on the newly redesigned White House web site that they have dramatically expanded Civil Rights agendas with a focus as well on the LGBT community. In a way, without the mistakes and bad policies we would not have had this morning, this day. But see how easy it is to undo it? See how good it feels to be proud and not afraid?
I’d booked today off shortly after the election. I knew I really wanted the time to experience it and reflect upon it. When Rochto and I discovered that the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle was having a free celebration and putting coverage of the Inauguration on the big screen, we scrapped our plans of a breakfast feast and beer and mimosas to join thousands of people to watch the historic moment.
And so it was my sorry ass got up at 5:30am to get down there. We ran a bit later than the 7am opening doors, and the line wrapped around Pine and Pike st, almost a half mile. For a brief moment we wondered if we should abort and run back home, we were afraid the theatre would fill up. But we parked and risked it. It did indeed fill up but thankfully we got seats. The theatre was extremely dark because the projection was a bit weak on the screen, but the pics show.
The crowd was absolutely electric. People were hugging and smiling. Strangers were making way for people to reach seats.
Rochelle turned to me and said "I think this is the first one of these I have ever sat down and watched."
"You picked a good one" I replied.
The coverage was already on the screen and the requisite boos when Bush was shown or Cheney had an almost jovial feel to them. There was coffee and breakfast foods and I noted with some amusement, mimosas and alcohol too for celebrating. The first time we clearly saw the President-elect as he was exiting the White house all action stopped and a thunderous standing ovation occured. I’ve been in that theatre a million times. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like it.
Just as the oath was about to be administered the coverage we were watching noted, irrespective of the oath, Barack Obama officially was already President of the United States. The laughter and cheers were muted at that, because I think all of us needed the oath. We needed so badly to hear the words. We weren’t going to accept it until it was too late to take back, too real to be some fevered dream.
As the oath began I noted with extreme amusement the strict constitutional textualist Chief Justice John Roberts get the oath of office (Laid out in the Constitution) wrong. There was a hard edged grace in the President’s letting him correct it before they continued. You could almost sense the unspoken thought, "This is one of many reasons why I voted against your confirmation John"
There was pregnant silence during those words that only 43 had spoken before. When that "So help me God" came out, the roar from the crowd put the earlier ovation to shame. People were applauding, crying, laughing. Hey don’t take my word for it.
I can’t imagine any better place to have been besides perhaps Washington D.C. itself, to have shared that experience with so many.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Barack Obama is no superhuman. He will stumble. He will make mistakes, and he will disappoint us sometimes. But his call to us is what is important. He said today:
"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship."
If he fails, we failed. If we fail, he’ll fail. And with that, we get to work.