Tuesday, January 20, 2009


There are turning points.

Read that sentence four ways, emphasizing in each attempt a different word. The funny thing is that no matter which word you emphasize, the sentence points to the ephemeral nature of the pivotal moment. It arrives after long build-up, and it is gone before you know it. But pivots do happen. There are moments in history where everything that was before is changed.

Is this such a moment?

I think it is. The gathering clouds portend answers or barbarism. Either is a pivot. It is remarkable that "at this moment" a figure has appeared who has all the appearances of transcendence, who appears to understand that it is not an adjustment or a correction that is needed, but a reorientation. That the rules have changed, and that the ground under our feet has adjusted.

And it is striking that this figure seized the stage and took power against odds and expectations and a vast gorge of conventional wisdom. And that he did it by changing the rules.

The rules have changed and he changed the rules in response. He comes to the office invented from whole cloth, his own man, with fewer debts to pay than any President in memory. He projects assurance, and he has consistently stated that he expects change. His oration was sure and soaring. He proposes to mobilize a nation, and a new generation. He enlists artists and creators. His people sure know how to put on an event.

So now this moment evanesces and we are left with the pivot. Did we pivot? I think we did.

A few notes: I spent 10 hours with my friend Tim watching every moment, including the actual ceremony twice. We were joined at various times by Adam and Lorin. Some observations ...

The Rick Warren invocation actually held out numerous hooks upon which we can hang our case. If he wishes to pose himself as a new kind of evangelical, and if Obama says he fiercely supports us, the what do we say to his invocation of God:

It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

Don't we come from him? Don't we belong to him? Isn't our history part of his story?

I could ramble on. I thought it was an eloquent invocation ... got a little jeezussy at the end ... but all evangelicals continually evade their hatred for us. We are here, we are now, we are part of this. That's what we have to say, and we reject the comfortable compromise that says we get whatever we can grab but we do not get into the party. I still believe that this invitation was a slap to us. We know that. We still want in ... all the way in.

O Aretha, how I worship you. The voice is aged but still sublime, and the spirit soars. I just love her.

The quartet was sublime. It was a pause, unexpected, that gave us inner silence amid pensive and demanding music to model in our minds the character of this pivotal moment.

Curses to John Roberts for botching the oath ... I figure he was supposed to say Barack H. and instead he said Barack Hussein, and that threw it all off ... and after that he botched it up again further. One day, he votes for gay marriage. You read it here first.

Nothing to add about the inaugural address other than to say it was the best speech so far ... imagine a President who is a truly gifted orator.

The poet ... good lord, that was ridiculous. Terrible.

But Joseph Lowery ... now there's a poet!! He walked from the earliest days with Martin Luther King, Jr. and now he is here. His words were sweet music ... don't think I'm getting soft. Religious language can be sublime; I still don't trust it, but I can enjoy it.

It was moving to watch the big queen in the grey jacket leading the Gay Marching. He was having a ball and it showed.

Last note ... how come virtually everyone split from the Presidential viewing platform by the end of the parade except the first family? You get an invite like that, you stick around.

We got an invite, and we better stick around.

Photos by Arod. The line graphic is from a fence near Hayes and Octavia; the party shot is from a party store on Church Street near Valley. I took the party photo today on the way to the party.

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