Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Witnessing the Obama Pentecost from a Treadmill

Casual acquaintances were surprised to learn I would not be on hand for Barack Obama’s inauguration. During rosier polling times, I had blocked off the date to travel to Washington to see John McCain’s swearing in. Well, we all know how that turned out, though I guess I could have “grateful gratitude” to McCain for conducting a miserable campaign and thus saving me the considerable expense of journeying to our nation’s capital.
But the interest would not have been there and thus Motel 6 rooms would not be going for Four Seasons’ rates as was the case this time with Hill staffers retiring student loans by renting out their apartments for serious coin to accommodate the assembled masses.
I had a ticket to go, but my attitude was “been there, done that” during President George W. Bush’s two inaugurations. I would have probably been beaten, or to use the Old Testament manner of executing non-believers, stoned to death for erupting in laughter after the circus clown…I mean preacher…delivered his benediction, but more on that latter in this column.
Sick of seeing Obama’s graven image everywhere, I decided to skip out altogether and retreat to the office treadmill to burn some calories. But like the telescreens in 1984, there was no escaping as someone was watching the inauguration in the work out area.
So while walking an average pace of 4 k/h in a comfortable room, I watched history go down.
I saw Rev. Rick Warren deliver what I had originally thought was the president’s inaugural address by proxy until I was saddened to learn that there would be more talking ahead.
I saw Aretha Franklin, wearing what appeared to be Christmas wrapping on her head, not improve upon her outstanding performance in Blues Brothers.
I heard a poem that I could not make heads nor tails of.
I kinda sorta heard accomplished musicians play a piece that seemed out of place.
I bore witness to the first miracle of our national savior when Joe Biden’s speaking was limited to his oath of office.
I saw the throngs waving campaign signs and chanting the new president’s name as if it were a campaign rally, behavior quite different from my past two inaugurations.
And then there was the money shot: not Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s inaugural address, but the closing prayer of Reverend Joseph Lowrey in which he ended it with a crude nursery rhyme that asked brown to stick around, the red man to get ahead, yellow to be mellow and, my favorite and what caused me to almost fall off the treadmill, for white to embrace what is right.
It was good to see the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was there in spirit if not in body. Nothing like spitting in the faces of white folks whose support was instrumental in putting Barack Obama in the Oval Office. But I digress.
And then there was the sermon from the hill itself. I found his delivery to be underwhelming and its content combative, with the president accusing the ideology of the opposition party as being stale while throwing shoutouts to the special-interest patchwork of his party, much in the same manner Bill Clinton did in his keynote filibuster at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
I am sure Obama’s voters found his inaugural address very powerful and stirring just as they find ALL of his speeches to be moving since they’ve instilled in themselves Pavlovian reactions such as shedding tears and experiencing profound euphoria upon hearing his voice. Obama could read Dr. Seuss to his people and they’d explode in ecstasy. But more about his personality cult and its dangers to the republic for next week.
Oh, I should point out that Obama set a new record for flubbing from the very beginning, and no I am not talking about the Quayling of his oath of office (I am sure SNL will parody it as they did Dan Quayle’s oath taking as vice-president about the same time Osama bin Laden embraces the Book of Mormon). Obama had his good in the 52nd word of his inaugural address when he said 44 Americans had taken the presidential oath.
I don’t know who his fact-checkers are or how much he knows about American history but while we have had 44 presidential administrations, we’ve only had 43 presidents as Democrat Grover Cleveland had served two non-consecutive terms and does not count as another person (there’s Supreme Court rulings on such a matter)
Or maybe Cleveland’s evil twin brother was his stand-in for the second trip to the White House.
In any case, that’s a pretty major error considering the occasion and if you think I’m overreacting, then imagine the merciless mocking the 43rd president would’ve received had he made the same mistake in his inaugural. There Dubya embarrasses us again, right?
And speaking of double-standards, the price-tag of Obama’s inauguration was a princely sum of $150,000,000 for his shindig while Bush’s 2005 event was almost four times less yet liberals criticized the Republican for engaging in such “lavish” spending in light of that money being better spent elsewhere.
Think of all the body armor for soldiers, soup kitchen appliances, windmills, Arabic translators for Pushtan-speaking Afghanistan and carbon credits that could have been had!

And on One Final Note…

Yesterday I had penned a column evaluating the most recent Bush Administration, though I was remiss in failing to mention that the 43rd president restored respect to the presidency and the executive mansion.
Perhaps the reason why I was not cognizant of his contribution was due to how easy President Bush made being dignified look.
I remember being in Washington in 1999 and walking past a group of grade-schoolers on fieldtrip when I overheard a few of them giggling about trying to find Monica Lewinsky. We had come a long way from George Washington’s wooden teeth and Honest Abe’s stovepipe hat being the leading presidential curiosities of interest for our nation’s youth.
Being presidential instills confidence in both the man and the office he holds. Bush banned jeans in the West Wing during work hours and nobody was allowed to set foot inside the Oval Office without a coat and tie. Cell phone yakking being the biggest no-no.
Maybe such in-house policies are considered little stuff but it went a long way towards re-establishing the White House as being more than just a government office complex or presidential clubhouse.
In what really underscored the absolute hatred and lack of civility these self-proclaimed dedicated peace activists had for political opponents that dared to be successful, Bush was taunted with “sha-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, goodbye” as he left the inauguration podium en route to returning to private life. Ever the professional, Bush took their invective in stride as he had done throughout his eight years in office.
There was no red-faced expression. No angry biting of his lower lip. Bush continued to display the same easy smile that confounded critics whose pride kept them from giving the Yale-Harvard grad the respect he deserved and thus always giving the confident Bush the advantage.
President Obama inherited a better house than 43 did in 2001, in which Ws were removed from computer keyboards amongst other instances of childish vandalism. You can bet that when the Bush Administration left the White House, they left the Os on the keyboards.
Thank you President Bush for being a class act.


Bill P. said...

Wow. Sounds like you have a great idea of the hell good Americans who thought Reagan was a smoking trash heap went through while everyone else lit burnt offerings to him.

Your line about Bush The Torturer 'restoring honor' was f'n hillarious. He tarnished that office worse than Bill Clinton could ever have dreamed of, only the stains Georgie Junior left were of blood.

Bill P. said...

Mind you, I usually hate to kick folks when they're down, but conservatism has left this country in absolute ruins. The only problem is, conservatives are too damn thick to see that what we are living right now is the product of their twisted mythology. The least conservatives could do is apologize for what they've done to America, but we don't expect that.

Democrats will just quietly clean up your mess, restore jobs and build the economy, restore our moral standing on the global stage, then watch pathetic conservatives claim the credit for what we do.

The irony of a cult of people who believed Jesus ordained Bush in 2000 suddenly mocking Obama for being loved would be delicious if it weren't so pathetic.

mberenis said...

Groovy colors man, I'm digging the purple.


Fast, Free, Secure

Leah said...

Well written, Mike. I had forgotten about the destruction exhibited in the White House by the Clinton staff upon their exit. I vaguely remember that items were stolen from Air Force One - criminal acts. How can we expect the world to respect us as a nation when certain "elements" within our own country exhibited such tasteless exhibition at the inauguation towards the office of POTUS. President Bush and his family brought dignity to the White House (I don't expect anything less from President Obama and his family AND I didn't vote for him either) and he did not deserve such disrespect no matter how much they disliked his policies. You never see conservatives act like that...only tasteless liberals.

cenlamar.com said...


I love the metaphor of your title:

The specter of someone running in place, frustrated at watching a moment in American history that he had once believed belonged to him (a frustration implied by your use of the word "Pentecost").

I also enjoyed your notion of integrity and dignity: It seems to be something not necessarily demonstrated by sound policy or serious thought, but by the small gestures and rules of decorum (such as the White House having a strict dress code, which, to you, illustrates a respect for the Office, but, to me, illustrates the type of capricious rules, intended for optimal photo ops, that undermined the seriousness of the work of the Office).

Think about it: In the Bush White House, rolling up your sleeves was banned.

But good job on catching the Cleveland slip. There HAVE been 44 Presidents (I think we can both agree that Cleveland was the 22nd AND 24th President), but only 43 men who have taken the Oath of Office.

Good luck.