11/6/08

Spiking the Punch

Although mixed with a somber sense of mourning over the passage of gay marriage bans in several states, yesterday was still a day of celebration. You could feel it simply walking down the street. Passing someone on the sidewalk or sitting beside a stranger on the subway, there was a tacit understanding, a shared recognition that the idea(l) that all men are created equal had come another step closer to reality. Clearly, for both women and homosexuals, there is much that has been left undone; but yesterday, even as we grieved, there were voices reminding us that, though it might be a long time coming, here too a change is going to come. Obama's victory proves that, though progress is far from inevitable and requires talent, courage and dedication, it is possible.

That was yesterday. Today, our major news outlets seem determined to throw cold water on our uplifted heads. Not without good reason: For many nations the world over, an Obama win represents a new opportunity for establishing relations with the West; Russia is having none of it. The President Elect ran a campaign based almost entirely on the economy--an economy that is still running on empty. We are currently in two wars and, eyes on the hour glass, the Bush administration is doing all that they can to ensure the permanency of their global overreach.

In response, Obama has already begun to assemble his team. NPR is feverishly covering even whispered rumors about potential cabinet picks while every major newspaper reports that Obama has tapped Rahm Emanuel to be White House chief of staff, apparently sending the blogosphere into apoplectic shock. Here, Guy Brookshire of Super Collide reveals the intellectual muscle behind Obama's foreign policy and speculates on a list of names to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks.

All that is well and good, but one major question remains unanswered: how will Obama celebrate his inauguration? The President Elect's people-first, grass- and net-roots campaign motivated the highest voter turnout in history, but can his inaugural bash beat Andrew Jackson's? Tony
This “reception” went awry from the start. When the staff opened the doors to bring out the first barrels of orange and rum punch, the exultant crowd burst in and knocked several over, soaking the floor in sticky booze and smashed glasses. The guests were, said eyewitness Margaret Bayard Smith, “a rabble, a mob, of boys, negros, women, children, scrambling, fighting, romping… Ladies fainted, men were seen with bloody noses, and such a scene of confusion as is impossible to describe.” The crowd quickly took possession of the White House: So many people were squeezed inside that the building itself creaked and shuddered dangerously. A bodyguard of loyal friends had to form a ring around the scarecrow figure of Jackson so he wouldn’t be crushed to death or asphyxiated by well-wishers. The strangers behaved if they were in a Mississippi saloon, standing in mud-caked boots on the damask chairs for a better view.
That's a lot to live up to, but do I think that we, the people, can throw the greatest party in the history of American politics the day Obama takes office?

Yes we can.

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