Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Even in Australia, the inauguration of Barak Obama is saturating the media and conversation. It's exciting. It feels like the whole world has been waiting for this change.

Australian political life is different. Our politics are very centrist. We don't damn each other so hard and we don't get as hopeful, either. We like our politicians to be a bit geeky and boring. Our Prime Minister looks like Tin-Tin and talks like a bureaucrat. We just don't really do handsome, charismatic leaders who actually give inspiring speeches.

So watching the inauguration is quite fun and also genuinely hopeful.

At the same time, I'm uneasy, too. There is something wierdly messianic about the coverage. All those pictures of a lit-up Obama smiling compassionately - they remind me of the pictures of Jessus from my Sunday school. I hate to say this, but it's actually a little bit... creepy.

People want to have hope, and I want them to have hope. But hope in what? In the miraculous powers of one man? People want change, but one man can't change things alone. Real change is very, very hard to do. Barak Obama is the most inexperienced President so far, facing far worse circumstances than most, and the expectations seem stratospheric. How can he not end up being a disappointment?

This morning, as the Big Dude ranted about the new era before us, I made the mistake of saying, "You know he's a politician, right?"

It did not go over well. It was made very clear to me that I am a killjoy.

I must admit that I'm a little cranky in the mornings, ever since the Little Dude has taken to coming into my bed at night. I just can't sleep properly with him jumping around and kicking me in the face. So maybe I should just keep my crankiness to myself.


Blogger Sailor said...

I think that tempering the expectations with the knowledge that he's not an all-powerful dictator is important; however, there is so much disillusion and dissatisfaction with the current administration and President Bush, that I think people tend to get caught up in the transition moment.

Usually, at least in the transitions that I can remember, people's over-excitement tends to fade fairly quickly, to a more reasonable level, at least domestically.

I think what is going to be very interesting, is the international buzz- how quickly the world community remembers that we don't give a sweeping blanket authority to one man, no matter how popular at the moment.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Therese in Heaven said...

I agree completely, Emily. People are dazzled by his charm and his charisma and are treating him (he has played into it to some degree too) like some sort of demi-god.

It's creepy, but it's also disturbing. Even more disturbing than how many people have admitted to voting for him JUST BECAUSE he's African American.

But time will tell if it was the right choice for our country and the world. I sincerely hope that this signals a good change, although I am skeptical.

And for my own part, I did not spend my day worshipping at the altar of the secular messiah.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

You capture my thinking exactly, Em. . .

The 'messianic' tone of so much of the media coverage of the new president is a little creepy. . .

8:46 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

How dare you blaspheme the name of the newly-crowned messiah!

I'm afraid I don't put a great deal of hope and confidence in any politicians, right or left. Hope is good, maybe change is good, but the massive inexperience added in with all the fawning is, as you said, disconcerting.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Digger Jones said...

It has to be tough, always being the darling of the media. It's hard not to get sucked into the hype, as he is that good of a speaker. We do need good will and optimism and his call for personal responsibility and action resonates. But if he keeps this up, his own congress will be the ones to cast him down, which is what happened to Carter and Clinton.

I say give the guy a chance but don't be a lemming about it. I have a feeling he'll do well until about midway through his second term when the wheels fall completely off. Inflation will go into double digits from all the money they'll be printing up for these bailouts. Things look bad now, but they can still get worse.

6:02 PM  

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