I watched only a small amount of the inauguration of President Obama, just the speech he gave. Which was very disappointing, a cut and paste of his stump speeches and a hodgepodge of past inaugural speeches, quite forgettable. I was forced to discuss the inauguration in each class throughout the day. In every class I was the pessimist, the one unmoved.
I had supported Obama very early on in the primary race, voting for him the Massachusetts primary round. However when November came, I was now supporting the candidate who wanted to increase the size of the military, threatened cross border strikes on Pakistan, wanted to increase troop presents in Afghanistan, no longer supported a quick withdrawal from Iraq, and wanted an undivided Jerusalem. I wasn’t voting my ideals anymore, I was voting against McCain. It is not lost on me the significance of the countries first African-American President. It is equal to France voting for an Algerian. Its was totally unthinkable 20 years ago and totally illegal further back in time. Although that moment where I saw the country move beyond race was on November 4th. That was the moment for me. The inauguration is a celebration of “American exceptional-ism”. The notion that America can control the world, because it is the exception to the rules and the election of Obama is the reaffirmation of this concept. Another “great” Democratic President, who also ran on a platform of peace in the world and promised never to enter World War I, first laid out this concept. Woodrow Wilson was clear on what American exceptional-ism allowed: “Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down … Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused." This is what American foreign policy will continue to be under President Obama the export of capitalism, in the form of corporations under the protection of marines bayonet. Obama has already said he will continue to use Blackwater forces in Iraq; He will not suspend Bechtel’s monopoly over Iraq’s water resources and Halliburton will continue to control the flow of oil. For me these were part of the greatest outrages committed in Iraq by President Bush, and to know they will transition smoothly under an Obama Presidency is unnerving.
My biggest fear of this “love-fest” for Obama is that the left and others will become pacified. No need to take to the streets, or pay close attention. As I watched CNN cover every gift, every ball, every breath Obama took, I longed for some real news. The world has not stopped so we could watch him dance. The country is transfixed in a glassy-eyed love affair, meanwhile cities burn and babies are starved. Here is a list of stories that happened on the day of the inauguration they were cut from CNN so we could watch our new President twirl his bride around on million dollar stages: Chinese laborers are deported from Saudi Arabia for considering a strike; Rwandan soldiers enter the Democratic Republic of Congo more then one million have been displaced by the fighting; The UN demands goods and humanitarian aid be allowed to enter into the Gaza strip; The US stock Market declines sharply; Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes for using white phosphorus munitions in densely populated area (white phosphorus burns through the skin, into the muscle and to the bone); 22 suspected Taliban fighters are killed in Afghanistan; Stanislav Markelov a Russian lawyer who exposed army abuses in Chechnya is assassinated in broad daylight in down town Moscow; a leading activist in Thailand is arrest for “insulting the king”; power sharing talks between Tsvangirai and Mugabe in Zimbabwe collapse; 25 people killed in fighting in Somali; the Arab league fails to agree on what to do about Gaza; Pakistan kills 60 “hardcore militants” according to a paramilitary official; and finally 5 killed in Iraq in several car bombs, three being civilians and two US soldiers were wounded.