Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

The day after Barack Hussein Obama won the Presidential election, I arranged to have the day off on January 21. The plan was to go to sleep early on the evening of the 20th, get up around 1am and watch the Inauguration, then spend the rest of the day sleeping and pottering about and generally being grateful for a day off...and I suppose grateful that the Bush era was finally over.

It didn't quite go to plan, and as a result I'm falling asleep at the 'wheel'.

The Australian TV network with the longest coverage of the Inauguration, Channel Nine, was also (initially) the network with the worst coverage. Unlike a lot of people, I like Karl Stefanovic very much. I've met him on a couple of occasions (in his pre-Today days) and he's a lovely fella. I also like his unaffected style on the Today Show. Despite this and the fact that he and Robert Penfold have some Beltway experience, their empty chatter forced me over to Seven's NBC feed within minutes. Even Ten had a straight CBS feed which left Nine's coverage for dead. Of course when Seven dropped their locals into the mix, they made Karl and Penfold look like Tim Russert and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

To the Inauguration itself. One of the most discussed titbits was the recitation of the Oath. Pro-Obama people blame Chief Justice for screwing it up. Anti-Obama people blame Obama for screwing it up. The really anti-Obama people are clutching at the final straw by suggesting Obama is not a bona fide President because he did not recite it as it is specified in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

As most of us saw, it didn't come out like that:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Source: CBS

In my tiredness, when I first saw it I thought it was Roberts' fault. But Obama did jump in a little too fast with his initial "I, Barack Hussein Obama" response and that really threw Roberts. To Obama's credit, he gave Roberts 'the look' i.e. the chance to dig himself out, but Roberts had effectively dried. Obama, unflappable coolass 'mutt' bastid that he is, went with it. He's cool like that.

(Despite there being only one word out of place, it was decided out of 'an abundance of caution that Obama should take the oath again, which, later that night, he did.)

One of the other odd little things from the other day was the similarity of this man... this man:

With apologies to the late, great Donald Pleasance.

Such rare occasions of pomp and circumstance have a curious effect on many. Royal weddings, state funerals and inaugurations can reduce people to shivering, lip-quivering tears. While I enjoy a good bit of sparkly old school glitz every 10 years or so, nothing could outshine Obama's speech. Even the (non-retarded) harshest critic would admit that Obama's gifts as an orator are unmatched in recent times, and compared to his predecessor, well...what's to say?

Obama's fame as an orator goes back to the DNC in 2004, when he stated:

"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America...there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America...there’s the United States of America."

Obama was on his way to becoming the junior senator for Illinois. Quite a few ears pricked at this amazing speech, and it soon became apparent to more than just Chicagoans and political players that this guy was something, even if just as a good speechifier.

In October 2002 at an anti-war rally in Chicago, Obama gave a speech in 2002 outlining his position on the Iraq War. I urge you to read it, simply to assess if it jibes with your position, and if you think it shows, for a 'green' state senator, not just a way with words, but a prescience beyond his political experience.

There are many around the world who have elevated Barack Obama to a kind of quasi-Messianic status. His opponent in the 2008 election even tried to score points with this notion, although his campaign pitched the notion that the status had been self-applied.

Let's put the last few years of American tailspin aside for a second. America has been devoid of literate, accessible leadership for eight years. Bush was completely and utterly unsuited to the business of statesman and figurehead, and as a result was hidden from public view. Illiterate>>inaccessible. Through this failing alone, Bush lowered the standard the office of the President, and that's without factoring in the absolute cesspool of his brand of retarded neo-conservatism.

Unfortunately this means that even a semi-literate leader would be regarded as an improvement, again, policy platform notwithstanding.

But now they have Obama, cool, unflappable and one of the best orators in international public life. He not only sends the right message at the right time (his Inauguration speech was a couple of gears down on the great rallying cries), he knows perfectly that his delivery and tone are so powerful he can face the people even when his advisors plead with him to lie low (his 'Perfect Union' speech, in the midst of the Wright scandal, exemplifies this).

Obama's no messiah, nor has he been proven to be much more than a charismatic, handsome, eloquent, measured campaigner. He may be more than these things, and if America is to maintain its greatness, he must be. It is naivety to believe that Barack Obama is our saviour. It's complete and utter ignorance, though, to believe that he is a less competent choice than the godawful poltroon America has suffered for the last eight years.