1/20/2009

I am absolutely overwhelmed by everything that took place on Inauguration Day and I say that as an aging cynic.  My father was a lowly soldier in city machine politics.  I've known from birth how the game is played, how the cards are dealt and how the deal goes down.  Working in the news business for more than 40 years, my cynicism has been reinforced every day.  I've seen the bright-eyed neophytes shot down, the brainy thinkers steam rolled, the truly needy cast aside with the powerless others.  That's the routine of politics--that's the day-to-day reality.  But then once in a great while comes a defining moment---the exception to the rule---a moment that gives you a little bit of hope that they're not all charlatans trying to line their pockets and accommodate their rich friends.  Rarely---very, very rarely---comes an occasion when the cynic is moved to think there might be another way that we might be governed.   I have had that feeling exactly twice.   The first time was in 1960, when John F. Kennedy proclaimed that the torch had been passed to a new generation.  He was talking about his generation (he was 43) but I felt he was talking about mine (I was 13).   JFK made government service cool.  He infused service to America with a status that a number of subsequent presidents have shot down.  Federal workers have been told for years they are part of a bloated bureaucracy that's a burden on rich people trying to become richer.  I think national service got a big lift at Barack Obama's inauguration.   I believe that, for the first time since JFK. Obama inspired young people to give some thought to serving their fellow citizens through public service.  He has sent a surge of energy into the populace unmatched since January 20, 1960.  I was deeply moved by the events of Inauguration Day and I will be happy to unburden myself of decades of cynicism if this feeling lasts another week, a month or a year.  I will give Obama time, because no one since FDR has been left with such a big load of crap to deal with.  If he screws up, I'll give him the same treatment I've given George W. Bush.  But for now, the honeymoon is underway, and who's not in the mood to enjoy a honeymoon?   January 20, 2009 was a very good day.   Let's hope we have many more like it!

  
-Bob