Today the sun simultaneously set and rose. We had our own democratic version of: “The King is dead! Long live the King!” (An old phrase apt given the deposed would-be kinglet.)
I imagine many of us will go to sleep happier tonight than we have in years.
As an aside, that seemingly contradictory phrase about kingship confused me terribly for years until I finally figured out what it was saying.
Author Sir Terry Pratchett has it that kingship transfers faster than the speed of light, something we might have tested this time given the old tyrant (emphasis on ‘rant) is licking his self-imposed wounds way down in Mir-a-Loser (emphasis on Loser).
But I resolve to try never to speak of that POS ever again.
The sun sets, but also rises.
It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve watched anything Presidential without disgust and despair. Today, watching the Inauguration (and last night watching the Memorial) my heart was filled with joy and hope.
As I write this Bruce Springsteen is kicking off the virtual Inaugural Celebration. (Because of course he is. When I heard about the celebration, literally my first thought was, “I’ll bet Springsteen plays.”)
So, caught between wanting to watch the show and wanting to post about today, some rather distracted notes and random thoughts…
Minnesotans got a special thrill from the involvement of Senator Amy Klobuchar. She’s the ranking minority member on the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee for 2021. Go Amy! (She even brought a few snowflakes with her to make things look pretty.)
Lady Gaga nailed the National Anthem! I’m a fan of jazz, improvisation, and variation. Alternate versions of traditional and great music have their delightful and wonderful place in life. That place is not on solemn occasions. Especially not this solemn occasion.
The central theme, besides the implicit “responsible adults are now in charge again,” was unity. Sticking to tradition as much as possible is a McDonald’s hamburger — a common denominator few can object to. (Much more delicious to us given our hunger.)
Not that Lady Gaga’s rendition was completely traditional. (That would be boring and too much like a high school basketball game.) It had just enough in the way of changes to make it interesting and compelling. In fact, one of the best renditions of our Anthem I’ve heard in a while.
Nailed it. Yet she wasn’t the star of the show. That honor goes to Amanda Gorman, a young 22-year-old poet. I’ll end with her; she stole the show.
This virtual Inauguration Ceremony is pretty good so far. They keep seeming to throw to a commercial break, but it’s just crackers between wine sips. Just now I thought they were taking a commercial break, but it was Yo-Yo Ma playing a really nice version of Amazing Grace.
Which is just a lead-in to our new President speaking! Shhhh!
I loved how firefighter Andrea Hall, who did the Pledge of Allegiance, also signed it. I wish the camera would have stayed on her the entire time.
Despite all the singing, one unsung hero is “podium cleaner guy.” (Wait; was it William Barr doing penance?)
Goggle didn’t turn up his name, but upon reflection he was pretty important. Speakers might not touch the podium, but the speaking sprays small droplets all over it.
If the next speaker then does touch the podium, or puts notes down on it, there could be entirely the wrong kind of communication.
The weakest part, to my mind, were the two prayers. Not because they were prayers, we put “In God We Trust” on our money (which is a whole kind of irony), but because they were kind of lame and dumb prayers. I’ve heard way better.
The basic problem was all the empty, even contradictory, phrases. And fairly boring delivery. Just saying. (I wouldn’t normally say anything, but it kind of stood out somehow.)
Joe Biden’s first speech as President was enthralling. (Although his hair blowing in the wind like that was mildly distracting. I think the wind was the one thing they didn’t quite plan perfectly for.)
President Biden, and others, used a key phrase from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution (bold emphasis mine):
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The idea is we cannot be perfect (ever), but we can reach to be more perfect. Yet I can’t help but smile and remember my high school English teacher, who would have insisted something can’t be “more perfect” — it either is or isn’t. As I’ve posted about, I think he was wrong about that. Metaphorically, poetically, we can try to be more perfect.
There’s an interesting contrast between the idea that democracy is both fragile and enduring. We’ve seen terrible examples of that fragility these past years, but we’re also seeing it endure. Lady Liberty, badly hurt, is unbeaten; bloody but not bowed.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are people of soul and spirit, of heart and mind. The difference is palpable. It’s the difference between zero and something, between utter despair and a shred of hope.
Amanda Gorman, only 22 years old, stole the show with a her poem. (She apparently wrote it the night of January 6th.)
In America there is a long tradition of Black pastors, Black poets, and Black rappers, with a gift for powerful musical lyricism that never comes off like doggerel. (I reach for that but never can grasp it.) Her words and her rendition were spell-binding.
I quote a small piece of it:
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
I’ll put a link to video below.
I remember how I felt back in 2008 when Barack Obama was Inaugurated. Now, 12 years later, that feeling comes again.
We made history with our first black President. Then we made another kind of history — a very near miss to our democracy. The worm turns again, and our long line of male Presidents and Vice-Presidents ends here.
The new administration is already hard at work knitting what was unraveled. Today they held their first White House Press briefing, and it has been a long time since we’ve heard one not filled with lies and bullshit.
We have been thirsty for four years. At long last we have sweet water.
Oh, look! Speaking of Obama, here he is with George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, three former adult Presidents who, agree with them or not, like them or not, were Presidents who served their country, not themselves.
Such a mix of (good and grand) emotions. We once were lost, but now are found. This Land is Our Land. Democracy stands.
I guess now we’re going to have to get used to radical normalcy.
Stay happy, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.