Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts on Inauguration Eve

The inauguration of Barack Obama almost scares us - not because we didn't support him (we did, enthusiastically) or because we don't have confidence in

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 5:52 PM

The inauguration of Barack Obama almost scares us - not because we didn't support him (we did, enthusiastically) or because we don't have confidence in him, but because the expectations are so high.

The Eye has seen the inaugurations of eight presidents, and not one - not even John F. Kennedy - came close to generating the almost frenzied excitement, bordering on worship, that we're seeing now.

It's not just that the new president is an inspiring orator and a charismatic personality, or that after eight years of The Worst President in History (that's The Eye's verdict, let future historians say what they will) we're convinced that anything has to be better.

No, what's behind the Obama fervor is the feeling that, after what seems like forever, we're again going to have a president who believes government can do something to make the country better.

For the past eight years the mantra of the Bush administration has been "No, we can't."

No, we can't fix our broken health care system.

No, we can't do anything about global climate change.

No, we can't develop alternative energy.

No, we can't repair our crumbling roads and bridges.

No, we can't reform our flagging public education system.

No, we can't do anything to reverse the downward slide in wages.

No, we can't protect small investors from crooks and swindlers.

No, we can't have honest and competent government officials.

No, we can't save a great American city from drowning.

No, we can't honor and obey the Constitution.

No, we can't do anything except give tax cuts to people who don't need them and fight an endless war that didn't need to be fought.

Now we have a president who ran on the slogan, "Yes, we can." Republicans ridiculed that slogan as corny and naïve, but Obama had the last laugh. He understood something the Republicans apparently have forgotten since Ronald Reagan proclaimed it was morning in America: Americans are inveterate optimists, and in this country "Yes, we can" will trump "No, we can't" every time.

So now the man whose slogan was "Yes, we can" will have to show that he really can. Can he? We'll find out. But we deeply believe that at least he's going to try.

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