Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Obama Inauguration

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Stay tuned. We'll have much more on Obama, Bush, the inauguration, and so much else throughout the day, with new posts set to be published shortly.

Meanwhile, I'm off to watch the proceedings on TV. (Yes, I wish I were there.)

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Yes, it's all a bit much -- more the media coverage than the events themselves -- but I tend to agree with Michelle Cottle:

In addition to feeling the burden of the nation's current situation, the Obama people are keenly aware of the widespread, pent-up desire to celebrate this day with all of the "ridiculousness" that this country can muster. The entire globe is watching. We should not shortchange the moment.

Moreover, I'd argue that the current anxiety and pessimism people are feeling make a large-scale, communal moment of celebration all the more important. In general, during tough times, people crave a little glamour and escapism. (There is a reason that the Great Depression spawned a Hollywood glut of high-society comedies.) More specifically, when there is an uneasy sense that our nation is struggling, people need to be reminded of its greatness. We need to feel like our best times are yet to come. We need spectacle. We need uplift. We need pomp and ceremony and, yes, silly whistle stop tours and cheesy speeches that self-consciously remind us how far we have come. It may not be entirely rational -- and perhaps even a tad counterproductive. But it's also human nature.

With all that is going on in the world, both at home and abroad, it is indeed a time for celebration -- a healthy and necessary prelude to the hard work (and tougher times) ahead.

It is an awesome spectacle. And a new day for America.

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