Monday, January 19, 2009

The Audacity of Hypocrisy

Barack Obama's inaugural address is expected to rely heavily on themes of sacrifice, of paring down the excesses, of hearkening back to a time when people were responsible for themselves, as well as for others in their communities.

Aides said the President-Elect's first words as president would hark back to John F Kennedy's plea to "ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country".

Rahm Emanuel, who will be chief of staff in the new White House, said: "We need that culture of responsibility, not just to be asked of the American people, but its leaders must also lead by example."

The address was mostly written a week ago, according to new press secretary Robert Gibbs, and will be "heavily infused with this notion of responsibility and getting our country back on track".

Just don't expect our overlords in Washington to set an examply of the sacrifice required. To ensure that the American people gets the message loud and clear, a estimated total of $150 million will be spent. Yes, these truly are perilous times: tens of millions unemployed, businesses closing their doors all around the country, millions facing foreclosure. Obama is showing how important it is to squarely face these challenges by having a big party that costs a shitload of money. Of course, the banking industry is suffering more than most, but they somehow still found it within their means to donate more than any other industry to the celebration. I guess all those billions of dollars we gave them weren't wasted after all. The phrase "fiddling while Rome burns" springs to mind.

jkerkez1 has written a brilliant diary on the subject over at DailyKos, please read the whole thing. If you can't, check out the final two paragraphs:

In my opinion, Barack Obama should have cancelled the inauguration celebration, re-directed all of the money set aside for the events to food banks around the nation, and modeled for the nation the sobering realities that we face. Instead he has chosen a grand and glorious wedding rather than a quiet marriage in front of a Justice of the Peace. He has opted for the ten thousand dollar wedding ring rather than weaving blades of grass together into a wedding band. He has baked a cake for a million wedding invitees, a lovely frosting-encased edifice that has no nutritional value for the country. And once the grand wedding is over, all of the drunk celebrants will return home and wake up on Wednesday morning with hangovers and less money in the bank and will scratch their heads and wonder what happens next.

Truth be known, I believe that in time the festivities of the inauguration will serve to undermine Obama's authority during this the most trying moment in American History. People will recall the smiles and good feelings and they will wonder aloud, "what the hell were we thinking?". Had Barack Obama opted for a more understated and somber inauguration, people may have been jolted out of their somnabulent complacency. Unfortunately, while the rest of the nation battens down the hatches, it's party time in Washington!

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