Being There (Part I)

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Yes, I was. Yes, he did. Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!

As my friend, Mr. Lung, mentioned yesterday, I was indeed present at the inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. And honestly, the only way I can describe the event is by comparing it to an early (or possibly late, although I have no experience with that) season baseball game. You know the kind of game I’m talking about, where you think you’re wearing plenty of layers but you figure out 30 minutes into it that you will never be warm again. But at the same time, you don’t care about a couple of numb fingers and toes because moments like this don’t come along every day.

Even now, I’m trying to sort through all the emotions that come along with an occasion like this. Of course there’s pride in knowing that for all our faults as a nation we always find a way to overcome them. And there’s hope, echoed in the words of the inaugural address, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” There’s also a little bit of uncertainty because, let’s face it, these are not easy times in which we live and, as the President said, we all share in a “collective failure to make hard choices.”

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But I guess what I feel most of all right now is relief. Relief that the unwashed hordes will soon leave my city. Relief that almost all disasters were averted. And relief that the stewardship of the country has passed into the hands of President Obama and his team.

At the same time, there were also events that left me conflicted. I freely admit that I am no fan of former President Bush and I’m sure I’ve written many scathing criticisms of him in these pages. But, the man was still our democratically elected President and because of that he deserves respect. Perhaps his opinions and his decisions don’t always deserve respect but the man and the office do. That’s why it left me a little unsettled today to hear people booing whenever President Bush’s face was shown on the screens. I understand the atmosphere and I understand the strong feelings. But, even if the inauguration felt like a sporting event and even if President Obama is the Michael Jordan of politics, there’s no excuse for booing his competition.

So, there you have my initial, unvarnished thoughts. And I’ll bring you more along with a roundup of the absolutely ridiculous coronation, uh, I mean concert I attended on Sunday.



  1. juliasrants

    I think that it is right that you didn’t feel right when people booed President Bush. The people, whether you think they were right or wrong, elected him and he was our leader. And he LOVED baseball so how bad could he be! Hope you warm up and and good luck President Obama!


  2. AJRoxMyWhiteSox

    I wish I could have been there. Then again it did look pretty cold. I feel you on booing Bush. He may have screwed up royally his second term, but as a country, we chose him. I was only starting high school when he was first elected in 2000, but he didn’t do HORRIBLY his first term, did he? He got us through 9/11 and its aftermath relatively well. (Please correct me if I’m wrong about this.) The position and the person we choose to be president should always be respected. The policies and decisions don’t have to be, but the person and the position do. It’s not an easy job.

  3. zkonedog

    I completely agree with you on the booing thing. To me, it’s a lot like the Yankee Stadium All-Star crowd last July booing Bud Selig. Now, I truly think that Selig is a spineless leader who will go down in history for letting steroids into the game, but I wouldn’t boo him at a live event. Sometimes people just get a little too angry.

  4. Jane Heller

    I’m with everybody on the booing. I’m no fan of Bush, but booing only makes the boo-ers look small. Which is why it was nice to see the Obamas and the McCains together yesterday, despite the bitter words during the campaign.

  5. Erin Kathleen

    They weren’t booing! They were saying “Booo-ush! Booo-ush!”! And thanks for sharing your experiences at the inauguration with us, Allen. While I would really like to get excited about President Obama, experience has taught me that politicians are all alike and make a bunch of empty promises they have no intention of keeping just to get elected. I really, really hope I’m wrong, and I do like what I’ve seen from him so far, but for now I will remain skeptical.-Erin

  6. dhacks

    I’ve booed this President’s motorcade before, and as a citizen retain my right to do so, but would refrain from booing at an Inauguration. As Senator Feinstein aptly expressed, the occasion honors and celebrates something bigger than any man – the peaceful, and at least on the outside, cordial, transfer of power.
    Considering civilization’s alternatives, it’s an amazing, humbling gift, not lost on our new President, who closed his address with the sobering challenge that this gift be “delivered safely to future generations”.

  7. rockymountainway

    I’m not sure I would have booed or not. I am a little more plugged into politics than most and I had a nasty sticker up until today on my car that I took off because it no longer meant anything. I never voted for the man and always respected the office but lost respect for him many years ago. It was a load off to know at the stroke of noon a new hope could be brought to office. I just smiled as W got on the plane to Texas and democracy could fix itself within itself. If booing was the biggest obstacle the democracy faced in bringing Obama in then I’d say we’re doing pretty good.

  8. redbirdchatter

    How sweet to watch as history unfolds before you and to be connected with the vision of the founding fathers as well as the visionaries to come. I, too, have been a harsh criticizer of the Bush administration, but to “boo” is just wrong. It’s like booing a starting pitcher as he leaves the game after getting knocked around for 5 innings. I wouldn’t even do that to a Cub. Seriously, I wouldn’t.

  9. allenk

    I think it shows how strong our democracy is that people are allowed to boo the leader of our nation. But, I also think it shows the failures of our educational system that people don’t have the proper respect for the office of presidency. To me, at least, the president is the democratically elected head of our government and as such, deserves to be treated with respect. His decisions can (and should) be critiqued and even savaged but the office itself (and by extension, the person who occupies it) needs to be respected. That’s what I think.

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