You would think that someone with a Masters degree in history and a long history of political wonkery would be interested in this historic coronation inauguration. Put aside partisan differences and just enjoy the pagentry and excitement, right?
Sorry, no can do. But I don't bring bitterness or anger to this but rather a exhausted cynicism instead. Barack Obama will be sworn in as president today and I am already tired of the administration. You want to know why? Allow me to offer a prime example of the ridiculous hyperbole and naivete that The One has brought to politics.
This is an editors note from the website Obit Magazine:
Today marks a new beginning, a transition from one ruling ideology, which over the last eight years has become a discredited, putrid mass, to a new philosophy of government. An era of careful pragmatism awaits, and so the nation celebrates its rebirth.
We are sure to remember the installation of this President vividly. Washington D.C. teems with political pilgrims hoping to see history created. They have travelled not only to see the first African-American become President (the White House was built by slaves, the national mall used to be a slave market), but because our new President is a gifted and powerful orator who just may utter words that will echo through the chambers of history for the rest of our lives.
To see the power of one person and the actualization of his ideas will be worth braving the cold and the crowds. Equal in inspirational measure will be seeing the faces of Americans enlivened with joy, and perhaps a new sense of civic purpose.
We all know what the first line of Barack Obama's obituary will be - hopefully written many decades in the future. Now we get to witness how Mr. Obama and history, joined in lockstep, will determine how the rest will read.
This sticky sweet mess of over-the-top messianic hyperbole and partisan - and slightly Marxist - hackery makes me nausesous and exhausted all at the same time. What can you say to someone who apparently really believes this stuff? how can you have a debate or discussion with people who view Obama not as a politician who took advantage of circumstances, ran a great campaign, and became president but as Colloseus standing across history; a orator whose words will echo across time?
You can't. And that is why I am simply not interested in watching the ceromonies today are discussing the events as they happen. I need a break from the hero worship and blind adulation. When the political debates and battles begin in earnest I hope to bring something to the table. But for now I just need to stay away.
But let me offer a warning as well. I am somewhat concerned about what happens when it is revealed that Barack Obama is in fact just a rather pedestrian politician who has accomplished little outside of his campaign. And that he, like all politicians, will get caught up in the petty and partisan mess that is Washington. What happens when the world isn't magically a better place just because Change has been uttered a gazillon times? What happens when vague uplifting rhetoric runs into the ugly facts of human nature and the tough tradeoffs of policy? What happens when Obama's election doesn't bring the steady march to utopia so many of his followers seem to foreseee?
I hope and pray it isn't a dark bitterness and the spinning of conspiracies; or the accusations of sabotage and the heightened sense of betrayal. The last thing this country needs is a whiplash switch from naivette to anger and bitterness; particularly among the African- American community.
So I guess what I am hoping for is a slow realization that politics is an inherantly flawed and compromising process and perhaps a return to spirited debate but not overheated emotionalism where every issue is over the heart and soul of America.
I can acknowledge the historic nature of today's events without believeing that History is on the march and that Obama is leading that vanguard. So those of you who want to experience and comment on today's events, enjoy. But I am going to work hard at thinking about other things. My psyche, and my stomach, will thank me for it.