Like so many others I took a break from my desk today to make sure I witnessed the swearing-in of our 44th President. A historic event on many levels, I think. I was surprised to find myself moved by the ceremony, not so surprised to find myself offering up a silent prayer for our country and this new leader, that he be blessed with wisdom, bravery, and perseverance.
Rob and I have talked a lot the last couple days about the coming days and an Obama presidency. We didn't vote for him, and I am trepidacious about some of his policies and agendas. Still, I have nothing to gain by hoping he fails. I would love to be surprised by his success. This is one thing that I have been most troubled by over the last eight years -- the position taken by many (yes, even by some who I admire very much) that belittled our Commander-in-Chief, blasting him as an idiot or rube whose time in office did nothing more than drag us into an "unjust" war and economic failure.
I think that's over-simplifying, and I think it was unproductive. I also think that fueling yourself with vitriol is not nearly as powerful as hoping for success despite your fears to the contrary.
And so I am choosing to hope and pray, and believe that this man who did not earn my vote --but always had my respect -- will ultimately earn my support as well.
I'm also hopeful that he, more than any other politician in recent memory, can change our fundamental attitudes about this country, the privileges and responsibilities of being an American, and the possibilities that are still available to all of us. If he can do this he will have done more than most, and it will go a long way toward shoring us up and turning things around. (And so for this, I am glad that Obama is our new president.)
Sadly, I write all of this as I watch the evening coverage of what has become a civil servant's coronation of sorts: Countless celebrities, a backstage interview with our new president, journalists in ball gowns and tuxedoes, discussions of what designer the First Lady is wearing. When the anchor threw it over to Leonardo DiCaprio to cover the crowd on the floor... well, that's when they lost me. I watched the Golden Globes last week; I really don't need a repeat performance again tonight.
I hope the significance of this day and the promise of what this particular man can do isn't eclipsed by the star-studded after-parties and (newsworthy?) interviews with the cast of NBC's Thursday-night line up. I'm worried that it is. I'm disappointed already, and we're only 10 hours into his presidency.
Let's not squander another opportunity to allow our President to succeed and lead as we have asked him to do. Let's respect the office and the man who fills it, regardless of our politics.
And please, let's leave Leonardo out of it.