Now that all the blog posts in the ‘sphere have been written about a topic, I, as is typical of my way, will weigh in long after theÂ topic has gone cold.Â I just returned this evening toÂ theÂ Centennial StateÂ from DC.Â I would certainly have posted on Tuesday afternoon, but I specifically didn’t bring my computer and have no way of posting via my PDA. (On a related note,Â I was probably the only ‘mo in the entire CapitolÂ region who doesn’t have an AT&TÂ iPhone, so I was actually able to make calls on Verizon the entire day.Â So nyah!)
A little background:Â I go to all the Inaugurations, every time.Â So while my conservativeÂ friends were shocked I’d go see him get sworn in, it was more of a civic experience than any sort of fan-worship.Â In fact, most of the event wasn’t really all that distinguishable from either of Bush’s swearing-ins.Â But I’m getting ahead of myself:
Tuesday was a beautiful DC day.Â Mostly clear, and cold.Â NotÂ just brisk, but not bitter; just simply quite cold.Â The very long walk from my hotel and all the people I had to brush up against kept me warm anyway.
Okay, Obama is everywhere.Â His pictures, His name.Â Ubiquitous.Â Very cultish, even quite creepy.Â On the walk, he was on everybody’s shirts, everybody’s hats, pins, signs, youÂ name it.Â It was the Beatles.Â Â More popularÂ than God?Â Well, I’ll let his fans decide.Â More on this in a minute.
The DC Police proved to be exactly the same as the previous Inaugurations I’d attended:Â very polite and professional, but woefully inadequate and completely uninformed.Â Entrances were closed, opened, overrun, blocked, you name it.Â And nobody had any reliable information about any of it.Â I had reserved (standing) tickets to the Silver section from my Representative (I must haveÂ been born under the right sign, because it certainly wasn’t my karma).Â But when I got to the gate at 3rd Street and Constitution, next to Labor, they weren’t letting anybody in there.Â Go down to 7th, they said.Â No luck there, either.Â I was getting antsy.Â After an hour or so milling between entrances on the north side of the Mall, I tried my luck walking through the 395 tunnel to the south.Â I wasn’t alone.Â It was like a Stephen King story down there.Â When we emerged near the HHS building, we found a similar crowded scene, but within a few minutes, things began moving.Â Rumor was some scofflaws had charged that entrance to the Silver area and the Capitol Hill Police had basically given up keeping folks out and were trying to simply convey some semblance of crowd control.Â They were letting people in in large groups.Â After the rushing around, I finally got a good standing spot between the Reflecting Pool and 3rd Street, pretty much dead-center.Â No need for that ticket after all.
Alright, so you may or may not be surprised by the incredible lack of class I witnessedÂ from some of these fans.Â (Yes, fans.Â I don’t believe the narrative constructed by the campaign and the President’s media disciples that all these “youth” of the Nation are now officially “plugged in” and “engaged”.Â They’re fans, and that’s pretty much it.Â But I’ll get to that in a minute…)Â As former President Bush (W) was introduced, he was greeted by a huge roar of boos.Â Very nice.Â I was embarrassed in a way that tart from the Dixie Chicks probably wouldn’t understand.Â I missed a lot of Rick Warren’s prayer because I couldn’t hear parts of it over the heckling going on.Â A few minutes before noon, Vice-President Biden was sworn-in, followed by several minutes (while his music played) of grumbling and bad-mouthing of the former VP.
I was surprised to find that I was in the midst of no less than three Bush supporters and McCain voters.Â We were all a little nonplussed by the immature, and again, classless, antics of those in our midst.Â I wondered two things.Â First, why would you spend what was supposed to be such a great day for you bad-mouthing, and wishing ill-will on somebody?Â Anybody?Â Secondly,Â given that I’d just happened upon so many non-Obama supporters who were just there to witness the event, how many of the rest of the folks here had been at either of Bush’s Inaugurations?Â I mean, I go every time because it’s a cool civic event.Â Will any of Obama’s supporters feel the same tug in four years (especially if it’s not him again)?
After the speech, as we were all making our way out one open exit (did I mention how poorly this was put together…again this year?), music was playing and a few people were speaking (how’d you like to be the guy who has to speak after the Inaugural address?).Â At one point, a military choir started singing the National Anthem.Â Of course, I removed my hat and faced the Capitol and began to sing.Â I noticed two things:Â TONS of people still milling around, talking on their cell phones, seemingly oblivious, men with hats on, etc.Â The other thing I noticed:Â an old black lady behind me, also singing.Â What a stunning contrast, no?Â After the song, I turned to the lady and thanked her for singing with me (with us, really).Â I went (WAY) out on a limb risking a rebukeÂ and kind of joked, “You know, at least when Bush was President, people showed a little respect for the National Anthem.”Â She laughed and agreed, confessing (in hushed tones, this black lady) that she’d voted for McCain also.Â We had a moment, really.
The walk back to the hotel was excruciatingly long.Â My back was killing me, and when I got back to the hotel, I took a great rest.
Okay, so there were the logistics, but you know, the event and the surrounding days back in DC really were cause for reflection.Â I apologize if some of these sentiments have already been written here or elsewhere you’ve seen.Â But here goes:
That speech:Â Very curious.Â First of all, just as platitudinous as the entire campaign, if you ask me.Â A bunch of high-flying rhetoric, really.Â Perhaps the Inaugural Address isn’t the place to get into wonkery, sure.Â But okay, we get it, you want us all to do…something, or whatever.Â What I really found interesting was his shout-outs at the beginning to risk-takers, entrepreneurs, and frontiersmen.Â Oddly, these are the same people who will suffer most under the President’s policies, if they’re enacted.Â That vexed me the whole speech.Â Another thing that I’ve been wondering all along about Obama, and which was really highlighted in this speech:Â I appreciate, and share,Â his positive view of America’s potential and promise.Â Where we differ is in our view of America as it stands now.Â Surely we’re suffering in a difficult time:Â Two wars and financial rough seas.Â But forgive me if I don’t share his (and CNN’s and Harry Reid’s, and Nancy Pelosi’s, and all his other fans’) perspective that we’ve crashed and burned here.Â Yea, things are rough, but you don’t even need to go back to the Great Depression to find rougher times than we’re having now.Â I mean seriously, does anybody remember Jimmy Carter? (sorry, Dan, before your time, ha ha.)Â Those were truly bad times when America really was declining.Â Does the President really have to inflate our hard times now to make his over-the-top government overreach palatable?Â If so, an effective political tool, but still, the Nation he describes is not one I recognize, and never have.Â Anyway,
Another thing that I found disturbingly curious that whole day, and to a lesser extent the entire week I was there was the reaction of his fans.Â And again, yes, I use that term.Â These are not people engaged in the political process, excited that he’s going to do anything specific.Â Obama is a complete cult of personality, and all you need to do is watch how his fans react to him.Â I haven’t seen reactions like this since the Rockies won the Pennant in ’07.Â And that’s how I’d describe these folks:Â they’re not cheering for a guy who’s going to do anything.Â It’s simply as if their home team had won.Â
That got me to thinking:Â Here we’ve elected a man President about whom we know less, upon his taking office, than any other man in my lifetime who has held the spot.Â Yet, he also assumes the office with quite clearly the most popular good-will and support of anybody in that time as well.Â How can that be?Â Just as John ZieglerÂ notes, even those who voted for Obama didn’t really know anything about him.Â Some have even attributed their own hopes (if you will) to him, projecting what they hope he is to the facade of the 44th President.Â In effect, we’ve elected a man who is everything to everybody because he’s nothing, really.Â
Conservatives like us will have it easy these next four years.Â We’ll disagree with him where we should:Â on forfeiting our progresses in Iraq, on abandoning the policies that have kept us safe for the past 7+ years, raising our taxes, hamstringing innovation and risk-taking (in spite of his Inaugural Address), and “spreading the wealth” around.Â
I’d be more concerned if I were an Obama supporter.Â These folks by and large have no idea what to expect from Obama, because they never did their due-diligence in learning anything about him before pulling their lever.Â When hisÂ redistributionist tax policies and protectionist trade policiesÂ further harm our economy and cost jobs and raise the price of goods, when his ill-advised foreign, diplomatic, and military flights of fancy prove to weaken us and invite more harm upon our Nation, when people are paying even more due to inflation, and we’re burdened by growing entitlement programs that punish success and reward dependency on the government, they may wonder why Obama didn’t fix everything.Â His supporters, his fans, don’t know much about his policies or his goals.Â They didn’t really bother to even ask about them.Â They swept the man they got into office byÂ voting for the man they wanted him to be.Â America will surely endure, but this great “enthusiasm” for the policital process is just as surely to prove effervescent once the throngs start reaping what they’ve sown.Â
If you don’t believe me, you probably weren’t in DC this week.