Daily Office:


Matins: Alone among the people I know, I’m not particularly excited about today’s “historical event.” Nicholas Lemann, in this week’s New Yorker, puts his finger on why.

In American politics, the ultimate contest is trying to get elected President. But the very few people who manage to win that contest then enter another, less visible game, with even longer odds: the race to become one of the handful of Presidents who really matter. Excitement about Barack Obama is at such a high level, and the times are so dire, that he is already well into this second race.

Barack Obama has been President of the United States since early November. We have been looking to him for solutions to our many problems, tapping our feet impatiently waiting for his predecessor to go away. We are hopeful, expectant, and yet — polls suggest — patient as well. We have been living with the Obama Administration for some time now.


§ Matins. The new President’s campaign introduced many novelties that in fact merely brought political practice up to date. There is, however, nothing that Mr Obama or his advisers can do on their own to rid this young country of its cripplings antiquities, which range from the prolonged election-Inauguration period (formerly even two months longer!) to its state lines, which no longer represent political authenticity on any level.

Everyone I talk to falls back on some variation of the following statement: How grand it is that a black man has finally been elected to the highest office in the land. In my ear, though, that “finally” is a fishhook that tears open the shame of the country’s disgraceful backsliding, between the era of “Redemption” and the civil rights agitations of the 1950s, into virtual apartheid.

The United States is a country that has by now established a reputation for falling in love with its own good intentions while failing to show up at the sltar when the time comes to commit. Today is at best not the dawn of a new era but the commencement of a probationary period. I’ll be the first to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a new and better union.

3 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Tony says:

    You can add me as someone who is less than excited about the day.

  2. Fossil Darling says:

    I confessed to LXIV last week that I had already had enough of Obama. I think it had to do with my starting to watch news and talk shows for the first time in years. They’re enough to kill anyone’s interest in politics, in much the same way CNBC and Bloomberg news do little to help people sort out the financial news. The endless speculation, the “experts”, the need to fill hours and hours of air-time……..

    Anyhow, my attitude changed over the weekend when it struck me that we were soon to be at the day when the malignant Bush team was gone, that indeed one of the miracles of American politics is the orderly transition of power, especially from one party to another, and for the first time since Mr. Clinton took the Oath of Office I cared about a President.

    I have lived, as many of us have, through the Bay of Pigs, the political killing season, the civil rights struggles, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra, etc. and now 8 years of Bush. My cynicism and distrust is at an all time high. But something tells me this man is different and that his government might just be as well. And I hope for all of us I am right.

  3. onscrn says:

    Well, it is an extremely important event for its historical significance. I invite you to read Thoughts of Water on the Eve of Obama’s Inauguration my reflections by a White man who grew up in racially segregated Texas. People forget just how bad things were a short time ago.