I just finished watching the inauguration of our new president.
Talk about a complex swirling of emotions. For me, and many of the people I know, Bush has been our president for almost half of our lives. Many of us have been frustrated, and angered by his performance, and his approval ratings at the end of his presidency were amongst the lowest in history. America is frustrated, and desperate for some change in Obama. Personally, I am not happy with Bush for many reasons – mainly with the early conduct of the Iraq war, and his major expansion of government. However, I am forever grateful to the man for doing an outstanding job of watching over the nation. When faced with a world-changing attack on September 11th, he reacted exactly as we should have – and ever since that day, our soil has been untouched. Say what you will about Bush, but he cared about our safety, more so then almost anything else – and that’s what I believe history will remember him for.
It is during his last days that a president is often the most hated. Some of our most popular presidents of yesterday were despised by the common man under their rule, and as people today sneer at Bush, and call him ‘the worst ever’, I simply invite you to look at Calvin Coolidge, James Buchanan, or Warren G. Harding. It always could be worse.
I watched Marine One rise from the capitol steps with mixed feelings – this is a huge shift for this country. It’s not quite the end of an era – more like a change in focus – or an attempt to change the focus of the country. It was odd, watching the man who presided over a tumultuous period in our history finally leave, and hand his power to his successor peacefully, the way it should be. I knew it was coming, but it never quite hits you when it actually happens. When Obama finished his oath, people were cheering – but it seemed somewhat muted, as if people were remembering that we are stepping forward into hard times. And indeed, we are – the world is a much scarier place now then it seemed a decade ago.
I remain cautiously optimistic about Obama, and will continue to be as I judge his actions over the term, or terms, of his presidency, until he gives me good reason to believe otherwise. Many of you have high hopes, and others fears – and I expect he will surprise us all with what he ultimately does. Many folks love Obama right now – and this is a proud moment for our nation indeed, this is the time to be celebratory. But be wary – In times like these, inevitably, he will make choices that will be very unpopular. We must remember that there is still a great deal of frustration and fear in this country – frustration at the political process, frustration with corruption, anger towards people such as Bernie Madoff, and those in power who always seem to somehow get away with ripping off their fellow man.
Washington is still the same as it always has been, if Pelosi and Harry Reid have been any indication, as we saw with their political gamesmanship with Burris and Blagojevich. Don’t be surprised if we see a lot of spars between Obama and the Democratic leadership – already, lines are being drawn in the sand, rhetoric being thrown back and forth. Extremist elements in the democratic party are thirsty to use the power they have been handed by a disgruntled nation, and Obama’s biggest challenge will be to keep these elements in check.
The ceremony itself was fairly nice – the musical performance with Perlman, Yo-yo ma, and others was a treat – especially when it rang with echoes of Aaron Copeland, while the poet laurette and the 2nd pastor were a bit odd. What sticks with me however, was the National Anthem sung by the navy chanters. Call me sentimental, but when done properly – with dignity – it never fails to fill me with emotion. Obama’s speech was also pretty well done, and inspiring – while I listened with some skepticism, I was still impressed. Say what you will about him, but the man gives great speeches – like Bush used to when he was first elected.
So, my hat goes off to my – our new president. He finally has it – the day I never thought I’d be seeing has come and gone. I wish him the best, for all of our sakes. I do not agree with Obama on many things, and many of you know this – but I am an American, and Obama is my president. That simple fact will not change over the next four years, barring extraordinary circumstances. But I will also do my best to hold him accountable for what he does in office. And I encourage all of you to do the same, Left, right, no matter your ideology. I’m not asking you to be paranoid, or angry, or doubtful of everything he does – simply hold him to a high standard, make him EARN your trust and your faith in his actions. I think America has really stepped up to the plate in the past few months – as a whole, I believe we are more well informed, more interested in current events, and generally more actively involved in politics. This is a very positive thing – and it is exactly what we need to have continue so we can really make some progress in battling the corruption of the political class of this nation. Good luck Obama.
Keep an eye on this: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/disposition.html
EDIT 6/10/13: Light polishing