Archive for January, 2009
So I went to Washington this weekend. I left on Saturday morning and got back on Wednesday afternoon. It was a lot of walking, getting up before the sun, and standing, standing, standing. In any other situation I would be miserable–and, full disclosure, I sometimes was. But I’m glad I went.
Certainly there have been moments where I’ve wondered whether my attendance was some sort of self-serving gimmick. Despite the fact that I love Barack Obama and the campaign he ran and the administration he promises, I can’t shake a certain feeling of skepticism over all of this. I wonder how much of my decision to go to the inauguration was motivated by actual passion about what I was going to see and how much was simply a drive to say, “I was there.” It’s like the people who reached out and touched Obama when he passed by them at rallies. Not shaking his hand, just touching. Why?
On some weird level all of that really worries me.
But I was there, and I’m glad I was. For all my skepticism and cynicism and anxiety about the structure of our democracy and the institutions that make us who we are (confrontational, self-serving, partisan, pitbullish), somehow I was able to push those feelings aside for the day (as I did on Election Night, when I got embarrassingly intoxicated and cried like a big drunk baby). Because in the end, when other people reach out their hand to touch someone, you do too. And it feels good, reaching out with all those people toward one point.
When Barack Obama came out of the Capitol and stepped down onto that little outcropping where he gave his oath, everyone started waving. And, I mean, we were pretty far away from the Capitol, you know? There was no reason for us to wave. But we all did, and I watched the coverage on CNN that night and I guess everyone else did too, waved their little American flags all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial. That looked pretty cool.
I guess what I mean to say in this post is that my going to the inauguration wasn’t really about Barack Obama. I’m not touched by rituals, oaths, any of that. He’s President and that’s it, I don’t need to see him raising his hand to make it real for me. I think I went because I wanted to see that scale, all those American flags. I wanted to be in a surging, cheering, waving crowd, and not just at some concert or festival or whatever. I wanted to be like a sponge, soaking in all those good feelings, having that big happy communal experience. And hey, it worked. I was happy, everyone was happy, it was great. I had a good time.
Start with this lovely piece of paper:
Add this beautifully written article by the inimitable Peggy Noonan (say what you will about her politics, she knows her way around the language).
I think I’m ready for the chill and crush of Tuesday morning.
1. Thumb wrestling while treading water in Lake Calhoun. Winner receives Senate seat. If both drown, Amy Klobuchar becomes grand dictator of Minnesota, receives imperial zeppelin and extra staff.
2. Field day with teams made up of candidate plus campaign staffers, set at the Metrodome and open to the public (priority obviously given to Lizard People supporters). Events should include sack race, tug-of-war, and a climactic Red Rover showdown. Winning team receives Senate seat. Losers must live at the Metrodome forever–like Mole People, only above ground.
3. Butter sculpture contest, judged by special election (no absentee ballots allowed). Winner receives Senate seat. Loser eats butter sculpture. At the Metrodome.
4. Minnesota gives up state status, becomes eleventh province of Canada. Minnesota receives free health care, ceremonial monarchy, and awesome new flag. America loses Minnesota, weeps.
5. Jesse Ventura punches both candidates in the face. Jesse Ventura receives Senate seat.
1. This video documents an obviously mutually beneficial relationship, as the baby is having the time of his life and the dog managed to snag a whole–what is that, a pineapple ring? Sponge cake? Labs will eat anything.
2. What strikes me about this one is how well-behaved Rorke (the dog) is, just standing on that rug waiting for his handout. Then the kid starts banging around and you’re like, “Maybe that’s why Rorke keeps such a polite distance.” Either way, good dog. Also, good line: “Give that one to Rorke, he had that one in his mouth.”
3. Okay, how old is that ringleader dog? Seriously, he has the thousand-yard stare going on. Either way, he means business. By the end of the video, when the dog (very methodically!) removes the plate from the frame, the baby clearly becomes the odd one out. You can see it on his face. “Oh. Okay, you take that. I’ll just watch.”
4. How many Cheez-Its can a Chihuahua eat before it explodes? Surely no more than three. That kid looks really serious about murdering that thing, but alas, limited resources.
5. Proof that baby-retriever alliances know no geopolitical bounds.
6. Okay, that cracker was definitely already in that dog’s mouth before the baby ate it. I suppose with two big dogs in the house, you take what you can get. We only have one big guy here and our house has the hygienic standards of Bangladesh on a good day. Also, check out jilted (and visibly disappointed) second dog on the edge of the frame. He folds one paw under in this very nuanced “I see how it is” manner halfway through the clip.
7. Okay, there isn’t a lot of feeding going on in this video, but I had to include it as part of this funny little sub-culture of YouTube videos made by pitbull owners. Most of them have titles like “Vicious pitbull attacks baby” and they’re like the cutest videos you will ever see in your life, I’m serious.
8. The title of the video, “This is love,” is completely accurate–this dog is a saint. That’s his food and he’s letting it be rationed out to him kibble by kibble–until he’s finally like “sorry, kiddo” and digs in. Those of us looking to be more patient and serene in 2009 would do well to emulate old Marlo.